A favorite game for upperclassmen to play involves trying to determine which of the faces they pass as they walk around campus are freshmen. One aspect of the game that makes every one of them enjoy it is the majority of targets don’t even realize the game is being played. Part of their obliviousness has to be due to the hustle an average freshman displays when there are only 12 minutes until the optional discussion section starts and the hall is a full block away.
To the minor dismay of various competitive “freshman spotters,” those folks are getting marginally better at blending in. At the start, picking out the youngest of students was as easy as beating Brigham Young University in football should have been, but the days of the red drawstring packs are behind them. But, there are still ways that the latest crop of freshmen manage to stand out from the more college-adjusted crowds.
Newcomers still get lost hella easily since the only places they know how to navigate are their dorms, dining halls, a blurry version of Langdon and their main lecture hall. Because of this, most people observed craning their necks up at landmark buildings to orient themselves are freshmen. They especially stand out while asking for directions since a freshman asking to get to Humanities will ask where the “Mosse Building” is if they aren’t staring at Google Maps to find it, instead.
Freshman Herd Behavior (FHB) is also declining now that the first month of classes is drawing to an end. At the beginning of September, a pedestrian could observe flocks of nearly 30 children meandering in some direction because the leader’s older brother knows a guy who sent an address. Lately, these Full Floor Exoduses (FFEs) are far less frequent due to many freshmen concluding not only would befriending every person on the same floor of their dorm be a logistical nightmare, but most of these people are nightmares to be friends with.
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The bright-eyed youth in week one lectures wearing their brand new “first day of school” outfits have been replaced by culture-shocked shells of adolescents who shuffle into lecture halls wondering why no one warned them that university was going to be, like, school. Rest assured, they’ll trudge into the lecture hall 12 minutes before the professor begins teaching — that much hasn’t changed.
The freshmen still love to tell stories of how “I got so lit during Welcome Week,” but the tone has shifted from awe and wonder at the new experiences in a novel place to a solemn remembrance of a simpler time that has already passed them by. What does that say about the mental state of the class of 2022? That they’re 18-year-olds who reminisce about a few weeks ago as though those days are cherished childhood memories?
While the external signals of freshmen have become subtler, thus making spotting them more difficult, the first round of midterm exams will bring players of the long-standing game a new edge. Freshmen getting their first ever ‘C’ on an exam have higher breakdowns per hour than any other demographic on campus and will help differentiate them yet again.
Until then, freshmen spotters will have to keep a keen eye to continue their games and win their apartment’s “freshman spotting” tournament bracket.