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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton: expectations vs reality

I’m going to be honest—Carleton wasn’t my first choice. Or second. Or even seventh. I only filled out the application to prove to my brother that I could get accepted into his alma mater and that I am not, in fact, the dumb sibling. I probably wouldn’t even have submitted the application before the 11:59 p.m. deadline if the time difference between Northfield and home didn’t give me an extra eleven and a half hours to work on it. As you can probably tell by this point, I had no interest in moving to a tundra. 

Much to my disappointment, I didn’t get accepted into what I thought (as a 17-year-old) were the “cool-kid” colleges like UC Berkeley and Tufts. So, I ended up accepting my offer at what I thought (and continue to think) was a “hippie-kid” college. As a self-proclaimed cool kid, I was naturally quite upset about this, especially since I very strongly believed that Northfield was lame and I was not a nerd. My stubborn ass couldn’t have been more wrong. After attending the fair for the Defeat of the Jesse James Days within two days of my arrival, it was confirmed: Northfield is NOT lame. Somewhere between laughing at people who go to Target for fun and becoming one of those people myself, I fell in love with this weird yet oddly comforting town. I even went as far as applying for a Minnesota state ID. Okay, yes, that was just so I don’t have to take my passport every time I go to the liquor store, but some would say I’m basically a Minnesotan now. 

When I thought about Carleton specifically, my expectations were the following: nerdy, socialist, small and quirky (am I even a real Carl if I didn’t add that last one?). I was right about everything; I just didn’t know to what extent. Carleton proved to be the kind of place where even the cool kids go to the library to socialize, students are involved in some way in almost every committee, there are probably two (maybe three) degrees of separation between all 2000 of us and every spring, too many hungover people wake up at 4 a.m. literally just to get a free t-shirt. From my experience, this school is pretty much what it looks like from the outside, but somehow even more “Carleton-esque” than I thought possible?

While Northfield and Carleton were definitely not my first choices, I think it makes sense how I ended up here. Although my 17-year-old self is probably disappointed that I’m not kicking ass at a “cool-kid” school, I think it’s safe to say that this tundra has somehow managed to warm my heart. I guess I, too, am nerdy, socialist and quirky—and that’s why I have grown to find comfort in this small, weird place. 

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