Well, it has all come to a very pleasing end. KIDS out there, expecting to move into college the following spring: many people will say that the transition is very hard, from high school to college, perhaps it is, I do not know. Maybe, for me, it was because I took a gap year, I really do not know. All I will say is that you must have your priorities in mind.

I know I have never talked about how is the party scene, and when do we dictate to study and when to party. So, my philosophy is that there is a time and a place for everything. There is a time for me to study; there is a time for me to party, have fun, or simply go out to do something fun and out of the routine. College is as much about bonding with other people, as it is about studying.

The university has strictly forbidden Greek life on campus because it does not go with the university’s mission of forming an inclusive and cohesive community. However, they exist underground. Regarding fraternities, there are: Alpha Delta Phi, Alpha Epilson Pi, Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Alpha Mu, and Zeta Beta Tau. While sororities: Alpha Pi Phi, Delta Phi Epsilon, Kappa Betta Gamma, and Sigma Delta Tau. I have a couple of friends who have pledged in the past, and this recent semester, personally, it is something I would not do: first, because it is like another class—there is a big workload, physical and studious work you have to go through and complete. Secondly, you have to pay every semester to remain an active member—I can spend money in other more valuable things.

There are great perks to it, though. But the environment at Brandeis does not pressure you to do it, if you do not want to. Nevertheless, the presence of the frats and sororities is appreciated, not just by me, but by other people who are not in it. They usually have open parties; I must declare that they are fun. If you go with friends, they are great places to talk and meet other people, dance, and just relax from the long draining days that college can make you go through.

I will be very honest with you, at any college there will be the presence of alcohol and drugs and Brandeis is not the exception. It is your choice whether you want to use them or not, but if you do, please be moderate with it. There are people who often take it to extremes, in fact, a girl got extremely drunk one night, she was taken to the hospital, and since her health insurance did not cover her in the state of Massachusetts, she was billed $4K. Her parents learned this news and as a result, they would come every weekend to pick her up, so she would not do anything so preposterous and, I must admit myself, stupid—she was even banned from the fraternity where she got very drunk that night. My point exactly is that, please, drink with some moderation and look out for one another—that is what I try to do whenever I go out with friends. Although, there are other more interesting things to do, to be honest. You can go out to have dinner, try to find “foodie” friends, shopping, movies, theater, etc. there are plenty of ways to have fun, and in a fun way.

I am mentioning the “party scene” because it often can affect your academic performance and reflect badly on your grades. So, try to go easy on it. For me, I think the transition was smooth because I really knew what I wanted to conquer during my first year of college, so it was not that bad. Try to have a to-do-list kind of thing, it helped me, and I think it will help me for my upcoming years in college; it helps the person to stay focused and on top of their game.

Rushing will not necessarily take you on the wrong track and affect your academic performance. In fact, I have met a lot of people who have found a way to make it feasible. I met a girl pledging, who was also doing a bunch of other things at the same time. She had a job, she did mock trial, she is the editor of the news section of The Brandeis Hoot (newspaper), and academics on top of it all. This girl managed to make it through and achieve all her goals. I do not know how she did it, but she did.

Yet, there are other aspects that may distract you or that may make your transition from high school to college difficult. It could be isolation, depression, problems at home, or financial hardship, among others. I think the best possible choice is to go out and talk to professionals, in most colleges there are resources to support every student in different ways. Trust me transitioning is difficult, especially if you feel out of place; that you do not fit in, or belong here. If you got accepted into a university is because the admission officers believed in your potential. They know that you are going to strive; they knew that you were an important addition to their student body, they wanted you. They wanted you because they knew that you are going to contribute to your community and be a successful leader.

Also, if you ever need to talk to me, please feel free to send me an e-mail: santiagomontoya@brandeis.edu. I check my e-mail regularly. I can talk to you about any doubt or trouble that you may have.



P.S. Have a lovely summer!