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Throwback Thursday, 1951: A Freshman’s Eye View of College

Editor’s Note: The following is an article from Emmanuel College’s student newspaper, Focus, from October 1951.

To the freshman, upper classmen present a constant source of wonder. During Freshman Week, they greeted us with out-stretched arms and invitations to join at least a dozen societies. Now they either greet us with outstretched palms (those societies have dues) or they brush us aside in the attempt to beat us to the seats in the cafeteria!

And the cafeteria! Ah, the cafeteria! It is a place of endless lines. Sometimes you don’t even want to wait in line. You simply wish to cut through on your way to class. The girls in line mistrust your motives. They refused to budge. By the time you have managed to work your way through with the aid of radar and a hat pin, you are fifteen minutes late for class.

This tardiness brings you face to face with the Nemesis of college life – a professor. All professors, like “all Gaul,” can be divided into three classes. In the first class we meet the Humorous Professor. This type of professor has been teaching for twenty-five years. Five years before he entered the profession, he learned a joke, and he has been using it ever since. If he wishes to be facetious, he uses it. If he wishes to be sarcastic, he uses it. If he wishes to illustrate a point, he uses it. But his students never stop laughing — not if they want to pass the course.

The second species of professor is the Floor-Walker. This Professor never looks at his class. He paces back and forth across the classroom, his eyes riveted on the ceiling, on the wall, on the floor, on the window, on anything and everything except his pupils. Every now and then, he uses and unfamiliar term. Immediately, at least six hands shoot up. Our Professor doesn’t see them. He’s staring at the blackboard.

And finally, we have the Surprise-Test-Giver. This Professor greets us at the door with a bland smile and a few polite inquiries about the weather. We take our seats and begin to congratulate ourselves that the period is progressing remarkably well, in spite of the fact that we didn’t do the day’s assignment. The Professor then produces a neat little stack of papers. His smile broadens. Ours begin to waver. Oh no! Oh yes? Oh yes. The Surprise-Test-Giver has the uncanny ability to determine whether or not we have done the assignment. His method is uncertain, but it is our private belief that he is secretly in league with the Holy Ghost.

Although they differ in other respects, professors all agree in one thing — homework. They obviously adhere to the theory that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” In the interests of our immortal souls, therefore, they make certain that our minds ever have a moment in which they may be idle. A presumptious freshman once suggested that we be left time to eat and sleep. She was laughed out of college.

The most popular form of homework is the essay. The essay is an instrument of torture which is believed to have originated during the Spanish Inquisition. Our professors regard it as another method of purifying the Freshman soul. If we express any doubts as to our ability as essaysts, we are told to “pour ourselves onto paper.” Now anyone who has directed even a passing glance at some of us and noted our ample frames will realize that we don’t pour easily. We sharpen a pencil, select a fresh sheet of paper, sit down on our determination, and proceed to chew the end of a newly sharpened pencil. Titles like, “How to be a Peroxide Blond,” or “Dark are the Roots,” and, “My Idea of a University” pass through our minds. We discard them all. We finally do a stirring piece of work on “The Life and Loves of a Bowling Ball,” pass it in, and await the day of reckoning with fear and trembling. Inevitably, the professor will return the papers with the remark that all students who received a B or better will not have to rewrite them. Just as inevitably, we receive a B-.

Another bugbear of college existence is the early Monday morning jaunt to the Science Building. After wrapping the leash of a Saint Bernard dog (one can’t be too careful, you now) around our frost-numbed fingers, we fix our weary eyes on the imposing brick building in the distance and proceed to follow the labrynthine ways that lead to is portals. We have gone no more than a few paces when a herd of wide-awake Juniors comes thundering toward us. Rather than step aside and risk damaging one blade of the school’s precious lawn, we lay prostrate on the ground and allow them to thunder over us.

Life is hard for the Freshman. It is hard when she is doing homework. It is harder when she is writing an essay. It is hardest of all when she is studying for tests, in Biology, English Literature, Spanish, Western Civilization, Theology, etc., etc., etc. During this period, she is a changed person. She leaves the phone off the hook. Her conversation with her family and friends is limited to monosyllables. She ignores her broken-hearted swains (each morning the police sweep scores of them off her door-step). Glumly she looks back upon her high school days. She ponders on that concept so common among her career-girl friends, “Girls go to college only for the social life.” Alas! If only they knew what we have learned through blood, through sweat, through tears. If one wishes to take part in collegiate social life, one must first remain in college. If one wishes to remain in college, one must do the work assigned. If one does the work assigned, one has no time for social life. And so it goes on, ad infinitum.

 

Author unknown, everything courtesy of Emmanuel College Archives.

Posted by on October 16, 2014. Filed under Alumni Action,Around Campus,Throwback. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to Throwback Thursday, 1951: A Freshman’s Eye View of College

  1. stephen

    October 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Great idea to explore the archives; I hope this will be ongoing! I’d love to see posts from contentious times — what were EC students doing in the 60s/70s? How did students organize when they disagreed with Administration? How has the mission been interpreted and engaged by students over the years?