I hope you’re enjoying your first days on campus! For many of us older students, the past two years have felt decidedly un-collegiate, which is a bit of shame if we’re being honest.
Parties have been canceled, clubs have scaled back and classes have changed format and structure at a pace that was seemingly impossible to keep up with.
But the thing I noticed most was the subtle regression of an on-campus “vibe” that seemed to be the (un)-official defining characteristic of the Tech experience.
The third- and fourth-years that would have shown the new classes what it meant to be a Tech student are gone, and with them collective decades of uninterrupted experiences and traditions that we may never see again. On the one hand, this is unbelievably saddening to me. Having been a freshman before the pandemic, I remember being a part of this and experiencing what it felt like to be a Jacket.
But as the years went by, and new classes came without being able to experience this same feeling of campus wide inclusion, we seemed to slowly lose it as we remained socially distanced.
Yet, despite how sad this may seem, it’s presented all of you with an unbelievable opportunity to help redefine that image of what a Yellow Jacket is.
Sure, it will almost certainly be different than what it was before, but 20, 40 and 60 years down the road, people won’t be talking about what the Tech experience used to be. They’ll be talking about what it still is, and how it still feels like a home even after they’ve been gone for some 20 years.
The onus is on all of you to help in this process, (I know I’ll be doing my part!). And with that, I have some advice for you all as you try to find your place amongst the many thousands of students at our beloved Institute.
First, never try to do it by yourself! The Institute isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a cut-throat, winner take all fight to the death. Instead, I have found that almost everyone is willing to help you if you ask.
No one will make fun of you for asking a question that you think is stupid, (in actuality, most of us have probably had the same question before, so ask away!).
Go and meet new people, join some clubs and find your niche on campus with a group of friends to call your own. If you have some friends behind you, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish on campus, I guarantee it.
Second, take it day by day. I know many, myself included, have found it tempting to try and chart the course of the next 15 years of our life down to the month, leaving very little room for anything that may get in the way.
But as I, and everyone else who has ever done that, have found out, you can’t stop life from happening. It’s ok to have a plan, but leave some space for the unexpected. If you’re ready for it, these moments can often be the ones that define you, and I would encourage all of you to see them as opportunities to take advantage of instead of problems getting in the way of your success.
And finally, have some fun and make sure you’re doing more than just studying. Don’t get me wrong, grades are important and should never be discounted.
But they aren’t as important as your mental and physical health, and you shouldn’t sacrifice what should be the best years of your life in favor of grinding in your room by yourself 60 hours a week. That’s just no fun, and I promise you’ll find yourself regretting it later if you choose that route.
There’s so much that this campus, and this city, have to offer, and I encourage you to find your place as you navigate your way through the collegiate experience.
I wish you nothing but the best on your (hopefully) COVID free journey through the Institute, and can’t wait to see the new culture that we help craft on this campus together. It’s sure to last far after we move on from the Institute.
Welcome to Tech!