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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Thoughts From Places: The ASEAN Auditorium

My view from the third row in the Cabot Center's ASEAN Auditorium made it increasingly possible for me to dismiss the sheer size of the room I was in. As my watch ticked nervously toward 10:30 a.m., more students continued to shuffle into the room. Some were visibly anxious, others were beaming with delight and more than a few brought the bare minimum with them. My first college class left me with the boon (or possibly the curse?) of two additional professors. All three were pacing in the front of the room, pausing occasionally for huddled whispers. I took time to look around the auditorium, and I was left with a lingering sense of awe. This one class housed more students than there were in my entire graduating class just two short months ago. While it may have been easy to scroll through the lengthy roster on Trunk, the presence of so many warm bodies brought months of anticipation to reality.

For the past two years, the college experience has been lauded, criticized and analyzed as a critical part of my day-to-day life. The final months of high school were packed with stress, anxiety, relief, excitement and eventually celebratory ceremonies, perhaps not in that exact order. There was no shortage of this electric vibe in the introductory phase of college. From the empowering speeches to the exhilarating declaration of matriculation and the totally not cult-like Illumination Ceremony, the first 24 hours of college were all spectacular. The thing about spectacles is that they are simply performances or displays. This particular one was finally fading into an unforgiving reality.

In my journey to Tufts, I toured various colleges, both small and large. Each promised that I would not be alone when it came time to tackle the beast that is post-secondary schooling. While I did, and continue to, believe the promise made by Tufts, it would be foolish to discount the severity of this shift in academic scenery. Putting aside the changes in lifestyle (dorms, personal responsibilities, free will, etc.), there exists an unexplored valley of scholastic competition. ASEAN is presently filled with anywhere from zero to 250 high school valedictorians. In four years, the same group will only produce so many students with highest honors on the commencement stage. Jumbos are inherently loving, caring and kind beings, but both time and mathematical calculations of grade point averages are altruistic.

Congratulations were in order a week ago, maybe even a year ago. Today, however, the unsettling realization that the journey to college is over and the actual experience has finally begun exists alongside introductory lectures and jittery first-years. The road to college may have had hundreds of possible outcomes, but the road ahead forks into millions of unique paths. Luckily, the same statistical reasoning that damned a five-thousand-4.0-GPA pileup has blessed us with a priceless resource when it comes to dealing with our futures: a large sample size of equally remarkable peers.