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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

First year fear

<ir="ltr">Of the many social transitions a freshman makes coming to Carleton, among the most shocking is being at the bottom of the totem pole. After spending four years climbing to the top of the ladder in high school, Carleton freshmen fear that, once again, they’re the outcasts. And to a freshman, there’s nothing more terrifying than the judgement of an upperclassman (although calling your professor “Mom” is a close second).

As a freshman, I’ve been gathering from my friends that a common social fear is irritating upperclassmen. Two anonymous freshmen share that they’re “really intimidated by upperclassmen.” One admits, “I feel like I’m just a stupid freshman. I feel dumb no matter what I do, like I’m constantly being judged by upperclassmen who have it together.” The other agrees: “I feel like I’m being judged but I can’t tell if it’s because I’m a stupid freshman or because I’m just a goon.”  In short, my friends believe that, like sharks, upperclassmen can smell fear and somehow know that we really have no clue what is going on (Editor’s Note: the shark thing is true. Upperclassmen can also smell free food).

Obviously, I had to get to the bottom of the matter: are upperclassmen really as annoyed by us freshmen as much as we worry they are? I sought out the answer from various upperclassmen from my dorm, who definitively proved our freshman worries wrong. Aditya Vaze ‘18 revealed to me that, in his opinion, “Probably thirty percent of the upperclassmen don’t like freshmen, twenty percent like them, and fifty percent don’t care about them at all.”

Indeed, other upperclassmen I interviewed seemed to view freshmen in the same vein. Although many freshmen may fear that upperclassmen are judgemental, the likely reality is that they’re simply uninterested. Yes, some may find freshmen tropes annoying (going to the dining hall in big packs, worrying about schoolwork way too much, etc.), but they’re sympathetic to your freshmen faux-pas, because at some point or another, everyone was in the same place that we are now. Moreover, this is Carleton, and in the spirit of “Carls help Carls,” most of the upperclassmen are more than willing to lend a helping hand when a clueless freshman needs it, whether it’s finding a building or figuring out how to do laundry.

Ultimately, freshmen tend to think that the world revolves around them and that the whole school watches every move, waiting for a misstep. But Carleton isn’t a high school and the reality is that mistakes are forgiven. As long as you’re relatively friendly, you’re going to do fine. Also, try not to smell like fear.

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