For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Sep 16 2016
by Xinlan Emily Hu

8 Things Quarter System Students Will Finally Stop Hearing Now that School Has Started

By Xinlan Emily Hu - Sep 16 2016

Though most freshmen across the country have long since begun college, students on the quarter system are just now preparing to leave home. As we say our final goodbyes to summer (an idea that feels strange given the number of times we’ve said, “Our school opens an eternity from now,”), let’s take a few moments to reflect on the last few months — the longest summer break of our lives. Though most of us will recall these days fondly, here are eight things that we’re glad we don’t have to hear again.

1. “Why are you still here?”

I dunno. Why are we all here?

Seriously, because we’re on the quarter system, we ended up hanging around town for much longer than the rest of our peers did. Eventually it grew a little tiring, even embarrassing, to still be on summer break when all of our friends had already moved in. We dealt with alternating waves of longing and envy — we had never wanted to go to school more badly in our lives, and it seemed grossly unfair that we were being forced to wait so long.


2. “How’s school?”

Ah, the quintessential autumn question! It was too bad that, for once in our lifetimes, it didn’t apply to us. We tried everything to avoid it: averting glances, walking in the opposite direction of people who approached us, changing the subject, etc., but school always seemed to come up eventually. And then we had to explain — much to everyone’s surprise — that our school hadn’t opened yet. And yes, yes, we wanted to go to school as much as they wanted to ask about school, but we were on the quarter system.

Then, a week later, when we saw the person again, they’d have magically forgotten about the conversation entirely, and we’d have to explain all over again that we were still not in school yet.


3. “When do you start school?”

We dreaded answering this question, since every time we explained the date — usually mid to late September for quarter system schools — people’s faces exploded with shock. We had no problem with the reactions the first few times around, but especially after our friends left, the feeling of missing our friends compounded with the desire to finally begin college. Being reminded of the faraway date only rubbed salt in our wounds.


4. “Aren’t you supposed to be in school?”

First thought: ARGH, I’ve been mistaken for a high school student again!

Second thought: Sigh, now I have to explain how my school opens late...blah blah blah.


5. “Are you excited to start school?”

When people asked this question four months ago, it was hard to say yes — how were we supposed to stay excited about something for four months straight? Weren’t we going to collapse from hyperventilation at some point?

The truth is, though all of us were excited, our feelings during the vast stretch of in-between time ranged from nervous to disbelieving (Wait, we’re actually going to college?) to a different kind of nervous (“Yeah, I probably messed up all the forms they asked us to fill out”).

Because starting college was the great unknown that none of us wanted to think about, but that we stayed awake at night thinking about anyway.


6. “I left on August 12.”

We were acutely aware that most of our friends had long since left home, and as we watched their latest Snapchat stories, we couldn’t help but wish that we were out making memories with them.

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of leaving for college is realizing that every institution has its own calendar — which means a loss of the common adventure, shared among all students. Unlike the common application, there is no September 1 deadline to pack your suitcase (though thank goodness for that!).

We found ourselves on a somewhat different stage of college life than our friends, and the thought left us with a twinge of disappointment and nostalgia — we missed having our high school squad, the people with whom we had done everything together. Their absence, combined with the fact that the first day of college seemed three lifetimes away, only exacerbated the loneliness.


7. “Goodbye.”

Like #4, being the last one of our friends to leave meant that we had to say goodbye to each of our friends as they embarked on their August adventures. Though we enjoyed having a last chance to spend some quality time together, we hated the fact that there would be fewer and fewer people left every time.

It felt as if life as we knew it was slipping away from us, one person at a time.


8. “So how’s your summer going?” or “Wow, you must have done so much in that long summer!”

Which part of it? Some parts of our summers seemed so far away that we barely recalled them, and the events were so blurred that we struggled to give a coherent answer. Many of us had been on break since May — a whopping four months ago! — and frankly, toward the end of it all, the only reply we had was, “I’m sick of summer, and I want to go to school already.”


Well, now it’s here! And we can excitedly attend classes to our hearts’ content, all the way until June.

Lead Image Credit: Webandi via Pixabay

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Xinlan Emily Hu - Stanford University

Emily is a prospective engineering student in Stanford University's class of 2020. However, she loves reading and learning about a range of subjects, including philosophy, computer science, and physics. When not writing, she enjoys debate, table tennis, reading, boba tea, and the occasional DIY art project (let's face it, those are hard).

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