“They Will Drink Anything”



I never intended to go to Colgate, or even to apply. I was told that Colgate was too much of a “jock school” or was too focused on Greek life or partying to be a good fit for me. After spending the majority of my life growing up in upstate New York, I promised myself I would go to college out of state. I meticulously developed a list of at least 10 colleges, mostly small liberal arts schools in New England and the mid-West. I was very indecisive and didn’t apply to any schools early decision, but when my friends started receiving early decision rejection after rejection in December 2011, I started to worry – maybe college admissions were more competitive than I realized. My parents and I decided that I better increase my odds of admission by finding another school to apply to, leading my mom and I to make the two-hour traverse from Albany to Colgate on the first Friday of January, 2012. Not realizing it was Colgate’s winter break, my mom and I had a private tour of campus and were impressed, but not blown away, by the school that I would soon call my alma mater. Nevertheless, I applied; no college is perfect and at least Colgate offered the small school environment I desired. Colgate was maybe my fifth or sixth choice, but when I was rejected from nearly all my top colleges, Colgate suddenly became a very real possibility. And with a fairly generous financial aid package, my decision was pretty much made. I visited again on April Visit Day with the somewhat reluctant mentality, “Unless today is a disaster, this is the school I’m going to attend.”

Looking back four years later, I know I attended the right school, but I entered my first year with a lot of doubt. Most of the colleges I applied to were the type that advertise themselves as having lots of “quirky” students. The stereotypical images of student life these schools put forward did not fit my personality at all – I just thought that I better go to a school where the students are “weird” or “different” because I had absolutely no confidence in my ability to make friends or adjust to college life in a “normal” environment. Of course, this makes no sense – (what is normal? I don’t think I’ve found it at Colgate) – and no school has a student body as homogenous as stereotypes would indicate, but I thought that I could learn to adapt to a seemingly out-of-the-ordinary school better than I could adjust to the stereotypical party culture I thought I would find at Colgate. When I told a high school friend I was attending Colgate, she responded, “You’re going to Colgate?! They will drink anything there!” This statement came only from stereotypes, and I’ll admit to enjoying a casual drink or two on a Friday night, but coming from a pretty socially insular high school experience, I was nervous and fully prepared to come home for fall break of my first year upset that I had no friends.

However, I surprised myself when, only two or three weeks in to the school year, I already had a solid group of friends. We would spend basically all our free time in the common room of West Hall, leading us to be called “the common room creatures,” as some other former West residents recently told me. I surprised myself at how “well-adjusted” I was. Now, after four unforgettable years, I know Colgate was by far the best school for me. I have met incredible friends, professors and mentors who have completely changed the way I think about the world and, especially, myself. I’m proud to say that I’ll be staying at Colgate next year to earn my Master of Arts in Teaching, and while most people ask, “How can you possibly stay in Hamilton another year?” I think it is the ultimate privilege to get to postpone saying goodbye to Colgate for another year. I am incredibly grateful that I have had the opportunity to attend this institution.

But I don’t want to put Colgate on too high a pedestal; my Colgate story is situated among many. While I wish that every student I have encountered had as positive an experience as mine, this is not the reality. Over the past few years, many students have vocalized their dissatisfaction with a campus they find unwelcoming and, in some cases, hostile and dangerous. If there’s one thing I’ve learned at Colgate it’s that white, male privilege is very real and no matter how little confidence I had in myself my first year, my race, gender and identity never stood in the way of adjusting to college. When I leave Colgate in 2017, I hope that I am leaving a more inclusive, empathetic campus than I entered in 2012; everyone should feel proud to say they went to Colgate.