Some Reflections

by Kristen Chartier | 10/29/99 5:00am

I just finished interviewing a future Harvard '04. He doesn't know it yet, but he's going to be accepted in a few months. He's not going to make it early-decision like he's hoping, but he will make it in come March or April, the lucky kid. If only he knew that now, I'm sure he'd treat these next few months a little differently.

I wished that I could pull him aside and tell him that it would all turn out just fine and that he should relax and have fun. Of course, I'm not allowed to say any of that, unless I want to start collecting unemployment. In fact, just as at the end of every admissions "conversation" (using that word instead of interview will supposedly make him less nervous um, right),

I admonished him to act wisely, study hard, and make the most of himself -- whatever that means. Judging from his GPA, extra-curriculars, and sweaty palms, what he really needs is for someone to tell him to just chill out. Of course, he can't hear it from me, and I don't know if he'll hear it at all. Besides, would he listen to me anyway, seeing as I am somewhat older and wiser (although I'm not too sure how much I qualify for that last part)? Absolutely not.

Then again, did I listen to those who were older than myself when I was a student, a mere four months ago? Absolutely not. I hated all of the well-meaning and generally annoying advice thrown at me from those who thought they knew better (and probably did).

But now I've been out of school for more than the length of an off-term and I've been back to school for Homecoming, and I see some things a little differently now. I can't tell that poor guy anything, but maybe I can pass along some things that I've learned in the real-world. I'm not talking about those wise adages that our parents tell us at the most inopportune moments, like "You'll get over this someday," when you really just want to hear, "He was an idiot." I'm talking about the stuff that you think doesn't matter until it does.

The real world is really old.

The real world is pretty ugly.

Not everyone is smart.

Taxes suck.

Food Court was actually a great social option.

The sandwich-makers and the wrap-makers are phenomenally skilled.

Eight hours is a long time to sit in front of a computer without snood .

Food is expensive.

Beer is expensive. Who cares if it's cold if you have to pay for it.

Dressing nicely is fun if you chose to, annoying if you have to. [Then again, guys look really really good in ties, every day, not just during rush.]

Some people really like me -- they remembered me even though I had started to forget them. The fact that many were inebriated and STILL remembered my name is even more of a bonus.

Some people really don't -- a few simply didn't remember me, and a few simply chose to forget.

The "long" walk from frat row to AD or from Grand Union to Hitchcock is actually ridiculously short.

Going home to a mailbox of bills just isn't the same as checking your HB and seeing that your grandmother sent you cookies.

Your bosses might not understand your desperate need to blitz whenever the urge strikes.

Anyone who went to Dartmouth is an automatic friend. In fact, anyone who knows anyone who ever went to Dartmouth is an automatic friend, bypassing all screening processes, no questions asked.

A 10A or 2A really wasn't the torturous length it used to seem.

It's really not acceptable to just decide to "cut" work one morning. I should have cut class more often when I could.

While it's fun to be called "Miss Chartier," the title entails responsibility, which would seem to be cool -- except when you have no idea what you're talking about and yet you're held accountable.

I miss my parents all over again. A lot.

Just when you think that you've adjusted to your new life, something hits you and you realize you haven't. And then it happens again. And again.

The walk of shame is not looked upon favorably in the real world, especially when you're in a business suit and have to take the train back home (NOT that I've done this, I just have a sneaking suspicion).

I went to a pretty damn cool school.

The above list is in no order. It's not supposed to be a grocery list of facts that everyone will agree with. Some '99s feel the same way, and some don't. It's not meant to be deep (I'm writing this during working hours and trying not to get caught, so bear with me). It's just some random thoughts that I have come up with since my round-trip back to Dartmouth. Not everything is bad about life after Dartmouth; there's actually a lot of things that are just as good or even better (now my boss really IS going to get mad, so don't make me itemize them).

I just wanted to sum up some things that I "knew" before I graduated, but I didn't truly realize until I left. It's just like the guy I just interviewed -- he "knows" that everything will turn out ok, but he won't really until he gets there (or here). I can't really tell him that he has nothing to worry about because my role is partly to instill the fear of God into him that he won't get a thick envelope in the mail one of these days.

And I refuse to write a missive about "If Only I Knew Then What I Know Now" to you guys Oh please. Just think about some of these things when you complain about Thayer food, or have to wait on line for a beer, or lose your jacket at a frat and have to walk all the way home in the cold (you'll still do stupid things like that after you graduate -- trust me).

You have it good now, even better than that future '04. He's going to go to Harvard, while all of you go to Dartmouth. While he'll have to learn lots of things during the course of his four years at school just like all you guys will, he's going to have to learn it at Harvard and from an insider's view, that means that he's going to have some additional problems of his own.

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