“I’m an engineering major, but if I woke up one day and decided I wanted to be in a musical, I could do that, because here at Northwestern, you can do anything you want!” – Your typical, backwards-walking, out-of-breath-from-screaming tour guide.
As a young, naïve high school student taking my first eager steps onto Northwestern's campus, I truly believed this ludicrous lie. Obnoxiously enthusiastic tour guides first planted this ridiculous notion in my mind. Upon unpacking that last cardboard box and waving goodbye to mom and dad, the you-can-do-anything-and-everything attitude feverishly infected freshmen all over campus, from Jones to Elder.
Not only did I fall victim to this foolish optimism, I worshipped it as the one and only truth. Before arriving on campus, I thought that my biggest problem would be finding time to pursue all of the activities and clubs that my heart desired. Shockingly, I am now struggling to find activities to fill my time. Thanks to the urging of my PA’s, CA’s and professors, I ambitiously went to work on becoming "involved” on campus. During my first month at Northwestern, I tried out for three, count ‘em one-two-three different dance groups, ran for hall government, and on top of that applied to write for a campus publication and to be on a philanthropic committee. Phew! Just writing that sentence exhausts me. Out of six attempts to get “involved” on campus, I only succeeded in one effort. For those of you who are counting, that’s FIVE rejections. At first, I thought I was just a worthless loser, but after talking to many other freshmen with similar sob stories, I realized that maybe my own mediocrity wasn’t the reason for my rejections, but maybe the system had something to do with it.
Like every other Northwestern student, in high school I was the definition of overachiever. Editor of the yearbook, features editor of the newspaper, varsity dance team member, National Honor Society member, freshmen mentor and student council member. But that’s the problem: every single student here is an overachiever, so none of us are. The annoying paradox if everyone is special than no one is can be found at the root of the issue of freshmen struggling to become involved.
It’s impossible to be rejected and not lose at least some of your self confidence. All I ask is that someone could have been real to all of us, the innocent freshmen that truly believed we were God’s gift to earth, because once upon a time we were exceptional, in order to be accepted here. If only someone could have simply give us a reality check before we were crushed by the weight of what felt like a hundred rejection emails.
An average student here is president of a fraternity, sings in an a cappella group, triple majors, double minors, and is involved in 19 other activities. I’ve begun to think that robots populate Northwestern, not real students. It’s the only logical conclusion. How would a normal human being have time to be involved in so many different groups? The pressure on freshmen to start producing, directing, volunteering, writing, organizing, leading and overachieving is too much to handle. While every one else is busy inventing new products, starting non-profits, writing musicals, researching cures for cancer and saving the world, I’m barely keeping up with classes.
Many freshmen like me want to be active in campus life but have found little success because student groups are excessively selective. I’ve been dancing for eight years and got two callbacks for dance groups but didn’t make the final cut.
I understand that freshmen are the new kids on campus and therefore are at the bottom of the food chain, but if we are never given a chance to get involved simply because we don’t have experience, than how will we ever get that experience if we weren’t given the chance? All student groups should be more like A&O and have a specific team just for freshmen. By having a specific team for freshmen as an addition on to the official group, more freshman will be accepted into groups and have a chance to get experience and do something they love, without sullying the high caliber reputation of the student group.
The standards are so high at Northwestern that it is near impossible to get inolved in any one group on campus. I’m wearing a purple bracelet right now with the message, “We are one Northwestern.” Ironic isn’t it, how can we be one, if the freshman are continually excluded?