If I Only Had Known
By Amy Mandel
Unigo Representative at Brandeis
A common lament for people – college students in particular- is what I like to call the “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve syndrome”; that is, it is human nature for us to second-guess our choices. It is not unusual for one to second-guess a choice, most often when one look backs to the alternative options and colors them with new information. I often second guess my choices, I have even questioned my decision to attend Brandeis University. I love Brandeis and I don’t regret my choice to attend. With that being said, I wish I had known a bit more about the school before attending.
Before applying to Brandeis, I wish I had known about the erratic weather. Being from sunny South Florida, I had an unrealistic understanding of the New England weather. Before I applied to any school north of the Mason-Dixon line, I wish knew that the weather changes sporadically and that the winter is not just filled with picturesque snow days but bitter cold, dark days as well.
Before choosing Brandeis, I wish I had attended a campus weekend. I toured Brandeis before applying, but I wish I went to an accepted student’s day to get a full feel of the campus and to learn more about the social life. Before attending Brandeis, I wish I had realized how small freshman dorms are, especially when living in a forced triple. (I would have brought fewer clothes for sure.)
Derrick Horton ’11 feels a little differently than yours truly. While he loves Brandeis, he wishes that he considered what life would be like after freshmen year. On tours at Brandeis, the freshman year experience is all that’s emphasized. Derrick wished he “considered the college AFTER freshman year, because it’s different.”
Daniel Ortner ‘10 wished he had realized that while Brandeis has a culturally diverse student body, the students are “intellectually homogenous”. Many students at Brandeis shared Daniel’s liberal politics and outlook on the world. Before choosing Brandeis, Daniel wishes he had seen this problem because now he “misses feeling intellectually challenged sometimes” because he has become “intellectually complacent by being surrounded by too many like minded people.”
Before Daniel Ortner ’10 applied, he wish he knew how Jewish life factors in at Brandeis. Daniel said that “so many things on campus are overly tied to Jewish dates,” including 6 days off in the month of October for the Jewish High Holidays.
Melanie Jolson ’11 also wishes she knew more about the Jewish community at Brandeis. Melanie is active in BUCO, the Conservative Jewish group on campus. Before applying to Brandeis, Melanie wishes she knew more about “the extent to which the Orthodox population penetrates throughout Jewish life.” Orthodox Jews are stricter in their observance of Jewish principles and have a large say over the entirety of Jewish life on campus. The Conservative and Reform groups are more progressive and sometimes this progressive spirit clashes with the traditionalism.
Melanie also has some practical advice on what to do before choosing Brandeis, or any other university. She wished that she refuted her “ financial aid or scholarship decision in order to get more money.” At Brandeis, if you appeal to the financial aid office before choosing Brandeis, you could possibly get a better aid package.
Before arriving, Melanie (and all the students I interviewed for that matter) wished she knew more about daily life at Brandeis and more about how the system works. Melanie wishes she had known more about classes, because as she said, she would have “ chose classes freshman year that would have interested me.” And like me, Melanie wishes she had a better idea of what to pack before coming to Boston. But, these are small issues and we have all learned with experience. Melanie, Daniel, Derrick and I wouldn’t have changed that one major decision in retrospect— attending Brandeis University.