Mason: Observations From A Gen Z Freshman

Photo courtesy of Alex Glenn/Mason Creative Services


Well, freshmen, we’re here. The last few years of our lives have been leading up to this. We’ve killed ourselves to make it here—so, is it everything you dreamed? The parties, the classes, the work, the food, the student life … is this exactly what you expected?

Just moments ago I was pacing circles in my dorm to pass time. Not hungry, all work is done, I studied until I couldn’t study any more. So, what now? Start a GoFundMe so I can join a frat? 

Now, it’s very easy to say, “Well there’s so much to do on campus!” But the truth is, while the average person might find plenty to do, an overwhelmed, stressed out, displaced eighteen-year-old is not the average person. Raised on cellphones and social media, expecting the world to come to me, the college environment has suddenly forced me—and all freshman—to break that shell and physically engage with the world.

In high school the routine is to go to school, see people you’ve known for possibly the greater part of your life, leave school and hang out with those people during free time. Here … I know nothing. I’m almost inclined to sit in my dorm, look at my phone, do some homework now and then and go to bed. But obviously, that’s not the answer (right?). 

So, what can I do besides whine in this article to the strangers who read it? Well, there’s a whole university waiting for me. 

I walk outside. I get my bike. I move about the Fairfax hills—half the time working out, the other half cruising with the wind in my hair—and go to the Recreation and Athletic Complex (RAC). Three gyms are here at Mason—is that not enough for me? 

Just walking around campus, there are students engaged in activities everywhere that I initially ignored, sheltered in my shyness. I don’t even bother looking at my phone. There’s plenty to entertain me just looking around!

Dear freshmen, and anyone else who needs to hear it, the truth about university is that it is what you make of it. Enrolling at a party school could mean rigorous school work for you, if that’s what you make of it. 

At Mason especially, there are so many opportunities and engaging activities to participate in that I’m almost mad at myself for trying to ignore them. So, the next time you want to sit in your dorm, scroll through Instagram and wish you were doing something, keep in mind that you always could be!