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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Midyear Experience

Being late doesn’t mean being behind

Published: February 1, 2008
Section: Features

02010805.jpgThis is what every incoming freshman read when they received the Brandeis acceptance letter.

“Dear _______,

Congratulations and welcome to the Freshman Class of 2011.”

Followed by: “We are unable to accept you for admission for Fall 2007.”

When I received my blue acceptance folder from Brandeis, I was nothing less than ecstatic. Brandeis was my “reach school,” and acceptance was definitely a triumph. It was only after I tore open the folder did I realize that Brandeis had sent me a bittersweet “Congratulations!” Kind of. Like most other midyears, I wasn’t really sure what to think. Who starts college in the spring semester? I didn’t think it was possible to be alienated in an acceptance letter, but Brandeis managed to prove me wrong. Confused and irritated thoughts rushed through my head; the only thing uniting them was a building frustration towards Brandeis University.

Only when the summer started did I grasp the opportunity I had on my hands. I literally had an entire semester to explore my fascinations. Many of my friends in Deroy (the midyear dorm) who took advantage of this time had amazing experiences last fall. “While I was touring Western Europe, I went to visit Claude Debussy’s hometown, St. Germaine en-Laye in France. I wanted to go there to see the sights that influenced his music.” stated Ori Applebaum, ’11. Another midyear, Logan Uretsky ’11 added: “I went to Baja California Sur, Mexico to do field studies research with sea turtles and Coastal Conservation Ecology.” I don’t think any of us truly expected Fall 2007 to be as amazing as it was. The experiences each of us encountered on our time off were truly life altering. Nevertheless, January eventually rolled around, and from different parts of the world we collectively set off for Brandeis.

After arriving at Brandeis two weeks ago, we midyears immediately formed a sense of camaraderie. “We’re a family within the freshman class. It’s better to be a midyear rather than a first-year who gets lost in a sea of unfamiliar people.” said Brad Mahlof ’11. Despite a tedious orientation riddled with dreadful “ice-breakers,” most midyears found the first few days after arrival to be excellent. Brandeis did well to integrate the midyear class following their arrival, providing them with multiple opportunities to interact and to get to know one-another.

Although some midyears disagree, most believe that being housed in the same dormitory allowed them to form closer bonds of friendship. At the same time, collective midyear housing in Deroy places an artificial barrier between midyears and the rest of the first-year class. “It’s fair to say that I associate myself more as a midyear than a first-year.” said Brian Reeves,’11. Brandeis Administrators were aware of this possibility, and attempted to assign “midyear buddies” within the freshman class to alleviate the problem. “Midyear buddies” are essentially first-years individually assigned to spend time with midyears and help them acclimate to the campus. Although this is a good idea on paper, in practice midyears have yet to amalgamate themselves with their fellow students. “Midyears haven’t found their place yet, and I don’t think they will for some time.” says midyear Kate Curley ’11. Regardless of the situation, the decision to admit a midyear class inevitably brings with it problems of integration in the first-year class as a whole. I haven’t met a single midyear who didn’t expect this.

We got here in the end, even if it was later rather than sooner. The midyear class of 2011 has finally arrived. To tell the truth, it’s about time. My fellow midyears assure me that we’re simply “fashionably late.” I can’t help but agree. Just like any other freshman class, there resides a long road ahead of us. I think we’ll make it through.

Despite a few kinks here and there, being a midyear has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for most. It gave me a chance to train and work as an EMT in the bad parts of Austin, Texas. It gave Ori Applebaum a chance to tour Western Europe for a month. It gave Kate Curley a chance to work at a residential facility for the visually impaired. But more importantly, it gave us all the opportunity to learn from experiences that we would have never gained otherwise. Sometimes disappointments can be blessings in disguise.