Pros and cons of the Freshmen Freeze
By ,
    Students visit the Activity Fair held outside Norris in September.
    Photo by Rosalie Chan / North by Northwestern

    Grateful for the freeze

    by Carrie Twersky

    True, these past few days have been pretty hectic filling out applications and signing up for interviews. I’ve had multiple flashbacks to sitting at my computer filling out supplements to the Common Application, trying to find the words to describe “what sitcom family I would most like to be a part of." In addition to the normal influx of papers and readings for classes, freshmen have accepted another load of work from the clubs.

    Despite the seemingly never-ending pile of work, I don’t think I would have been ready for the club application process two weeks ago when I first stepped on campus for Wildcat Welcome. Sure, I had a lot more free time, but I was spending it making new friends and getting situated. I’m glad I didn’t have to spend my free hours sitting in my room updating my resume.

    Now, I am in the swing of things. I have regrown my attention span, which seemed to shrink excessively over the summer. I now have the ability to sit down and complete, not only a reading for my Russian Lit class, but also three applications for various clubs.

    The activities fair made me feel like a celebrity. Never before have I had so many people pining after me, offering me free stuff, begging me to be in their presence. As fabulous as I felt, however, it was also exhausting and overwhelming. I left the fair confused. I had forgotten for which clubs I signed up. I opened my mail the next day to find dozens of emails from clubs that didn’t sound familiar. Luckily for me, I was prepared. After a week of getting to know the campus, I had an idea of what I wanted to do. So I sat down at my laptop and sorted through the emails. I dumped any from clubs I had expressed an interest in only for the free doughnut or a piece of candy.

    As a fresh-faced freshman just three weeks ago, the activities fair probably would have haunted my dreams for a while. It is too overwhelming to bombard young, easily influenced freshman with extracurriculars the minute they step on campus. We are all overachievers, and we will all sign up for 20 clubs if we don’t know any better. But through the help of our PAs and support systems, we narrowed our search. I can safely say that the Class of 2018 made it out of Welcome Week, the activities fair and our first week of classes alive. We have Freshman Freeze to thank for that. It allowed us to get used to college and everything that comes with it, before adding the whole new aspect of clubs and activities. Now, we are armed and ready to face the end of the Freshman Freeze, as well as any applications or interviews that come with it.

    Surviving the frostbite

    by Isabel Schwartz

    The first few weeks at Northwestern are a lot to take in. New students are expected to cheerfully and enthusiastically engage in the non-stop activities of Wildcat Welcome, dive into classes, and settle into their new lives – all while (hopefully) making friends. Reducing freshmen’s stress by keeping them out of frat parties and preventing clubs from recruiting is logical. However, the Freshmen Freeze is ultimately ineffective at achieving its stated goals. Rather it creates a sudden onslaught of pressure just as classes begin, ironically increasing freshmen stress levels.

    The purpose of the Freshman Freeze is ostensibly to help freshmen get to know each other and start feeling comfortable at Northwestern before getting involved in the wider campus community. It’s very true that Welcome Week was enough of a struggle without the added strain of recruitment. However, the student body still finds a way to explore the things that the university tries to keep at bay – recall the gaggles of freshman heading west on weekend nights. Although freshmen aren’t immediately confronted with upperclassmen actively trying to recruit them to different groups around campus, the Freeze creates an awkward in-between phase where students don’t really know what’s going on around campus but are still trying to be social, until everything is explicitly revealed to them at the activities fair.

    The activity fair alone is overwhelming; it’s a two-hour circus of an event where students are, for lack of a better word, assaulted with information, meeting times and application requirements for clubs they’ve previously never heard of. As Morty and countless others have mentioned, the Class of 2018 has many talents they’re bursting to share with the rest of Northwestern. While this year’s impressive class will certainly bring a lot to the student groups around campus, the Freeze led to an overwhelming and draining crush of applications and interviews just as students began their second week of classes.

    As clubs, which have been anxiously waiting to get started, schedule meetings in the days following the activities fair, freshmen are forced to choose between multiple information sessions scheduled at the same time. They are then asked to fill out sizable applications with short deadlines and choose which clubs they’d most like to join after only learning about them in the few days since the freeze ended. All of this many not seem unmanageable for Northwestern’s highly qualified student body, but it comes on top of student academic commitments during a fragile time when new students are still adjusting to life on campus. If the goal is to reduce freshman stress levels as they transition into Northwestern, the Freeze fails miserably.


    blog comments powered by Disqus
    Please read our Comment Policy.