Prefrosh Passages: At the Last Minute

This piece was written just before Ms. Gao, a member of the Class of 2016, was due to arrive on campus. 

Creative Commons photo by z0xx. via Flickr

It’s a bright, sunny morning.
It’s 8:45 a.m. on a Monday.
It’s… the first day of school.


As kids post their cliche “first day of school!” Facebook status or Instagram picture of themselves decked out in full senior regalia, I’m still in bed. I’m curled up in my comforter and oversized sleeping tee and bathed in soft sunlight. Admittedly, around 2 p.m., I’ll wake up drenched in sweat because my mother is currently on a go-green kick and turns off the upstairs air conditioning at promptly 9 o’clock in the morning, and I live in this hellishly hot place commonly referred to as “Arkansas”— but the point is, I’m not sitting in AP Economics right now, listening to what factors into calculating GDP.

But even though I am downright giddy with excitement at the fact that school technically starts in September and I now get an entire month off for winter break, the annoying voice of responsibility in my head sporadically whips out her list of things I have yet to do for my first day of school. Rude prude. Cue massive panic attack pour moi.

Now, usually, this happens whenever someone posts something new on the Facebook wall for the Class of 2016. I get the little gray notification blurb next to the group tab, and my OCD-prone self absolutely has to click it. Sometimes, it’s an amusing random question. But most of the time, it’s a discussion about something we have to do, or at least should do, before we arrive on campus on the 27th. And this “something” is, 99% of the time, something I haven’t done yet.

Progression of thoughts this summer:

Writing placement exam? Oh man, yeah, I should probably get on that…
Other placement exams? Eh, I’ll do them later.
Pre-orientation program applications! Whoops, forgot about those. Deadline’s passed.
So-and-so survey? Later.
Planned a tentative fall semester schedule? Nope.
…Just looked at courses even? Negative.
“LOL, almost forgot to turn in my blahbity-blah-blah forms!” ….What form?

Sometimes, the questions concern the number of bathrooms on Harvard’s campus, etc., to which the single response raging through my head is “Why would I ever, ever, need to know that?” (I secretly want to know obscure facts about Harvard, too! Jelly.)

But, regardless, the two most important conclusions you should draw from this tiny insight into my life are that 1) I am ridiculously lazy, and 2) I am probably the least informed member of the Class of 2016. Both are, unfortunately, mostly true.

In general, the entire 2016 community is very prepared, very informed, and very on top of things—and I expect nothing less from this Harvard crew! But then there’s me, the little fluke on the class radar. I’m unprepared, uninformed, and the mountain of things to do is crushing me a thousand miles into the ground.

Of course, this is probably an exaggerated assumption, on both ends, but that’s certainly what it’s felt like this summer. There’s always some new update to check out, some decision to make, some order to put in. And I always seem to be one step behind the rest.

School hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already slacking.
…So yeah, feels just like high school!

Now, I know there are people out there in the same boat as I am. So why am I the only person who is openly lamenting my cluelessness? Can’t a sista get an “AMEN!” up in here?! Geez.

There’s us hope for us yet, though. With one week left to go, I started wading through the list. Most of it actually turned out to be fun, especially course shopping (there’s a reason why it’s called “shopping”).

Progress report?
Concentration: tentative check!
Schedule: again, tentative check!
Extracurricular exploration: self-explanatory.

Seriously, I deserve a medal or something. I haven’t been so productive all summer. Best thing? It’s gotten me so excited for Harvard! There’s just so much to do, so many classes and opportunities. I’ve made a decision. I’m going to stay in college forever.

…Maybe. My future isn’t too excited about that decision. Whatever, I’ll talk to her.

This summer has taught me that I desperately need to stay on top of things this upcoming year. Thank heavens we have a positively stellar support group for us at Harvard. Between peers, advisors, and faculty members, all my questions can be answered! Everywhere I turn, I find a help. And, I should definitely stifle this awful habit of procrastination early on. Nip it in the bud, ya know, and all that jazz.

Next step: packing!
Days until departure: four.
Current status: not started.

Whitney Gao ’16 is now on campus, and has probably realized that no freshman is actually prepared.