12 things I’ve learned since receiving my Yale acceptance letter*

* Of course, it didn’t actually begin with a letter. It began with huge flash image of a bulldog (with a party hat and noisemaker, if I remember correctly), and a triumphant chorus of the Yale fight song. I honestly thought the whole thing was some elaborate hack for a full 30 seconds. Good job, technology.

It’s been approximately a year since that fateful day, and I feel like I’ve come a long way since then. So I thought I’d share twelve bits of random advice/words of wisdom/uninsightful insights I’ve accumulated in these past twelve months, in vaguely chronological order.

1 – College is full of awesome organizations and free food. And did I mention free food? What you experience during Bulldog Days is pretty much what you get the rest of the year at Yale: a billion events, opportunities, parties, and food. Okay, throw a little schoolwork in there too. Throw a truckload if you’re prone to overachieving tendencies.

2 – One of the two official colors of UC Berkeley is Yale Blue.

3 – It’s okay to Google the names of your suitemates before you meet them. Call it natural curiosity.

4 – Reno, NV is actually west of Los Angeles, CA! Mind blown. (Obviously I did not learn much the summer before my freshman year. That’s why you go to school, kids! Better yet, go to Yale.)

5 – You’ll hear this a lot, but it’s especially relevant during the first few months of college: you won’t get far if you’re constantly comparing yourself to the people around you. Yale is an Ivy League, and being here means that you will find among your peers here published authors, musicians who have been composing since age seven, and international science fair winners and debate champions. And on top of these resume-topping accomplishments, these people will have lived in five countries, tell the most hilarious stories, and be experts in the ancient art of underwater basket weaving (yeah I’m original har har). But remember, other people are thinking the same thing about you.

6 – Yale is a wet campus. That’s almost an understatement. Obviously there are lots of people who don’t drink, and (on the verge of sounding like I work for admissions, if this post doesn’t already) there’s an abundance of social events that don’t involve alcohol. But I will be honest; Yalies in general work hard and party hard. I won’t elaborate on my own experiences, but suffice it to say that after Camp Yale**, I’ve adopted an immense dislike of green apple Smirnoff.

** The first week at Yale, or orientation, when freshmen do stupid things and upperclassmen laugh.

7 – One certainly doesn’t need to go to Yale to learn this, and it is only very tangentially relevant (I took Intro to Cog Sci last semester), but it’s one of my favorite things ever: Noam Chomsky’s name lends itself to so many great puns (how fitting), including Nim Chimpsky, Gnome Chomsky, and Nom Chompsky. What’s your favorite?

8 – Reading week and finals period are as much for watching TV shows online as for reading and taking finals. I haven’t done intensive studies on this, but anecdotal evidence and personal experience should count for something, right?

9 – The squirrels here are hardcore. Other schools just have fat squirrels. We have badass ninja squirrels. I swear I saw one of them doing a back flip off a bush. Their other favorite activities include climbing onto my fourth-story window and wrecking havoc on the Christmas lights, climbing into our rooms through barely opened windows and eating nuts on the futon, and hissing at innocent students as they walk by.

10 – Another obvious one: opportunities and funding have never been so readily accessible. As long as you put in the effort to apply, you will get to study abroad, you will get an internship and meet lots of interesting people, and you will get to make awesome project you have in mind a reality. Never be afraid of failure.

11 – Do you want to be successful***? Of course you do, you applied to Yale. Well success, as it turns out, is all about the networking. (Yes, it’s true. Don’t try to deny it any longer.) As much as I hate the idea of networking simply to expand your list of contacts, it’s nevertheless a necessary and incredibly useful skill. So seek mentors who have experience in what you’re interested in, talk to upperclassmen, and go on, make small talk with that girl you always walk past on the stairs, even if it’s about the weather (I for one find that weather can be an extremely engaging conversation topic). She might be able to help you launch your business someday.

*** Disclaimer: definition of success varies from person to person and will most definitely change after you go to college. Duh.

12 – MGMT is coming to Yale for Spring Fling! I heard they were crappy live, but that’s beside the point, which is the fact that we get to see a great band for free. That’s hella tight.****

**** Don’t mind my inner NorCal soul. It can’t help itself.

Finally, a word to the prefrosh: Yale has a cupcake truck. A cupcake truck.

Whatever. It convinced me.

3 thoughts on “12 things I’ve learned since receiving my Yale acceptance letter*

  1. Hey, never knew Yale Blue was so rigorously defined, even meriting its own Wikipedia page.

    Wow, that’s totally cool having a squirrel climb into your room. Did you manage to catch it?

    :-( I still have never eaten a cupcake from the cupcake truck, even after 1.75 school years at Yale.

    I’d like to add a 13 to the list: The band always wins! Join the YPMB; it’ll make you want to stay here for grad school, just so you can play in the band for another few years.

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