If you are reading this, you totally fell for my click bait and are probably a concerned parent, curious high school student, or an incoming Emory freshman. If you chose the latter, I sincerely welcome you as you begin the best four (or five) years of your life in Atlanta.
You did it. You beat the odds. You are in the staggering 18% of a 30,000 elite applicant pool of Valedictorian, cancer curing, young adult fiction authoring high school seniors that somehow were given the grand opportunity to study at Emory.
I get it.
A year ago, I was completely in your shoes. Ecstatic for a new adventure, curious to learn about my passions, but also weary to leave everything I had built for the past eighteen years. College, no matter where you go, is an interesting beast. And while I could write lists of all the fabulous and momentous things that Emory has to offer and quirky Atlanta hacks to indulge in, I instead leave you with the advice that I wish someone would have told me when I was in your shoes last year.
No matter where you come from, no matter who you are, no matter what happened in high school or in your past, these four years at Emory are all about YOU. That's it.
The biggest piece of advice I can give to the Emory freshman is to ensure that you are "turning the page," as I like to call it. When you graduate high school you are closing the door on one chapter of your life and moving on to the next one. And during that process, sometimes you need to let go of some of the characters of that chapter in order to fully be able to absorb the words of the next one.
Sometimes characters from one chapter merge into the next, the kind that will remain in your entire life story. And others get lost in between the pages. This may be because they're too busy trying to figure out what to write on their own pages in their chapter, but that doesn't mean they can mess up yours.
Letting go of your world just a bit with no guarantee that you will return to the same reality is a hard thing to grasp at age seventeen. But often it's the letting go that turns into receiving something new and great that you didn't even know existed. And you may get hurt or you also may find out that you have everything you've ever wanted. Or both. But you'll never know unless you take the leap off the edge and immerse yourself in your new chapter.
In my story, I made it to the edge, but only stuck one foot in the water and kept the other one on dry land. I wasn't ready to let go - of my hometown, my stories, my friends from high school and people that truly mattered to me. Amidst that fear, the people I was holding back for turned their own pages and started their own new chapters. And it wasn't until I fell face first off the edge myself, one may even consider it being pushed, into the uncertainty of my college life, that I realized that all of the things I thought I was losing by being immersed in my Emory didn't disappear. They were still there. And they still are. And they make up parts of me that still exist.
But it wasn't until I fully ran into the excitement of my own university and made MYSELF my priority that I achieved an entirely new aura of happiness in Atlanta. And you will too, whether you are at Emory or any other university in the country.
You've just been admitted to one of the top institutions in the country that you're probably paying a whole lot of dough for. I'm sorry, but...
Why would you not make the most of it?
I truly wish someone would've smacked this sense into me in about August. Now, I walk around every day on campus feeling undeniably grateful to even be here. Amidst the exams and stress, I remind myself how many people would be dying to be in my seat in White Hall but aren't. I treat every day at Emory like a new opportunity, one to incorporate in the chapter of my story that I will share one day.
SO now what? Completely and entirely immerse yourself in Emory. Invest in clubs and activities that genuinely make you happy. Smile at everyone that you see, so you'll always have a familiar face to sit with when you walk into a nameless room. Fight hard to get into classes or meet with professors after office hours. Bury yourself in books at the library and try not to complain about Peet's Coffee (because it will become your best friend). Join a sorority or fraternity. Make your hall-mates your family (Longstreet Proud!!). And be undeniably, unapologetically, unanimously, beautifully, you, Emory student.
Welcome to Atlanta.