As visible as the flu, the flood of first-years on campus often get a bad rap, which I call the First-year Flu.
Many of us suffered through it once, and then we see others who suffer from it year after year, much like the flu. It starts with blissful ignorance as “high school society” integrates into “university society.” In high school, the grade 12 students see themselves as above the rest because they have finally reached the end of that stage in life. High school is all about being accepted, it’s full of little cliques of people trying to dress the same and act the same to be accepted, and anyone different is labeled an outsider. It’s all about who is on top. Sadly that attitude doesn’t stop in high school and is often carried across to university.
Not everyone suffers through the First-year Flu, but it is an ongoing occurrence. For some students, the major change in their environment can be a bit of a shock. University is the opposite of high school in many ways. There are no cliques in university; you “make friends with those in your classes.” In high school, people change to be accepted. In university, you’re accepted for who you are.
Many students who make it through the first year of university find the new first-years “ignorant and judgmental.” Most people I talk to say that the first-years, “get in the way.” This is true – after all, they are in an unfamiliar place and do not know exactly where they are supposed to be. Give it time and a little patience, and they will figure it out. If you want to speed up the process, help someone who looks lost.
Generally, it seems that they come into university thinking they are top dog, when in university, no one is top dog, and everyone is just trying to get through. As we discussed before, many just got out of high school where grade 12 students were the top of the pyramid and they are not used to the loss of authority that position brings. Many first-years are just figuring out that graduation is just the beginning of growing up, and this can be dreadful. Especially when they realize things aren’t going to get easier, instead they are going to get harder.
Lastly, the First-year Flu runs in cliques. When everything starts to fall into place, classes are easy to find, and taking the right notes gets easy, there comes the last symptoms. At university, there is a large diversity of people with interest’s, styles, likes, and dislikes that are drastically different. Coming from high school, different was not accepted, nor welcome. In university, it doesn’t matter. Many students who have gotten over the First-year Flu have stated, “The first-years are always very judgmental when they see people different from themselves.” In university, different isn’t bad. After all, everyone has one thing in common at university: we were all first-years once.