One realization that hits you pretty quickly when first arriving at Northwestern is that almost every one of your fellow students has accomplished something pretty interesting or is doing quite well for themselves.
But while everyone has accomplished something impressive, far fewer possess one crucial skill: how to talk about their accomplishments without sounding like...well...a douche.
It isn’t always an easy thing to avoid, but we promise that if you follow along with these examples and put in some effort you can become a slightly more tolerable person to converse with.
I know, right? How crazy is it that I didn’t even study, showed up hungover, and still got an A on that orgo midterm?
What’s wrong: We get it, you’re brilliant and don’t need to spend an entire week walled off from society in the basement of Mudd to do well in your classes. Still, eventually your luck is going to run out and you’re going to need a sympathetic shoulder when the unthinkable happens and you actually do wind up getting a C on something.
Corrected: I figured I’d do fine but no way did I think this would happen. Not a chance it keeps up.
I just don’t see why everyone doesn’t take a gap year. I found my time travelling through Europe to be really spiritually fulfilling. It really is a much more cultural place.
What’s wrong: There’s nothing wrong with taking some time to find yourself, but you do have to be careful with how you word it. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re pampered or stuck-up, and you don’t necessarily know how someone is going to react to a comment like that.
Corrected: I was lucky enough to be able to take the year to travel and it was incredible. That said, the whole time I just couldn’t wait to get back to Northwestern.
I haven’t hooked up with anyone in like two weeks; this is my worst dry spell in ages.
What’s wrong: Listen to yourself. This is not how normal people talk, let alone the sexually-frustrated populace of Northwestern. Everyone’s “dry spell” is relative, but have some presence of mind in a situation like this.
Corrected: Ehh, it’s been a little longer than I’m used to but it’ll turn around soon enough.
It’s just so hard to balance my time when I’ve got [insert series of leadership positions here], on top of school and everything else.
What’s wrong: Everyone at Northwestern is busy, and odds are most of them are involved in just as many things as you are. No one is going to be impressed with you rattling off a laundry list of activities that doesn’t sound appreciably different than anyone else’s
Corrected: I definitely stretched myself a little thin this quarter, it’s a balance I’ve gotta get down.
Gosh my internship at (insert prestigious company, vaunted news outlet or trendy record label) this summer was so fulfilling. Best summer of my life #blessed.”
What’s wrong: Everything.
Corrected: Just don’t.