Dear Midyears: Welcome to Brandeis!

Mutiara Carney '22 in red barn jacket in front of a campus buildingPhoto/Mike Lovett

BrandeisNOW student writer, Mutiara Carney '22, who arrived on campus last January as a Midyear.

Dear Incoming Midyears,

From one Midyear to another, welcome to Brandeis! Last year around this time, I had just finished my own Midyear Orientation and moved in with my cohort of about 100 other new students. Exhausted from a weekend of icebreakers, presentations, and trying to remember far too many new names, I was ready to begin classes and finally see what college life had to offer me. 

As you know, the Brandeis Midyear Program selects a group of students each year from the regular pool of applicants to begin at the university in January instead of August. The life experiences you and your fellow Midyears embraced in the fall ran the gamut. Whether you studied abroad in Florence or London, took classes at a community college, got a job, or just relaxed for a semester (don’t worry, we won’t judge you and most of us are jealous), as Brandeis Midyears we can all agree that our college experience has been unusual since the day we got our acceptance letters.

So, you’re telling me I got in...but I won’t start until January? 

Your acceptance either sent you into a frenzy wondering how you would graduate on time should you commit to Brandeis, or meant that instead of having to start college in the fall you now could opt for a five-month extension to your summer vacation. 

For those of you who fell into the first group, don’t worry. It is very common for midyears to graduate after only seven semesters, whether or not they earned class credits during their semester off. This may mean occasionally taking five classes per semester or enrolling in summer classes, but it can be done with good planning and time management. 

For those of you who seized the opportunity to extend your summer break, I hope you learned something valuable outside the classroom. I know I did. After I graduated high school, my parents moved from San Francisco to a suburb near Washington, D.C. Although I did take classes at a community college, I learned much more by having to familiarize myself with a new city, make new friends, and learn to feel at home in a new place. When I look at it that way, it almost sounds like I finessed a semester abroad! While I’m glad I took classes during my time off, the personal growth and life skills I developed were more valuable than any of the class credits I earned. 

Maybe some of you felt conflicted about delaying many of the college “firsts” that you had been looking forward to. You wouldn’t be able to move in with everybody else at the same time and make friends right away. You’d miss autumn in New England and all of the colorful foliage it has to offer. As for the foliage, be thankful that being a midyear cut your first Boston winter in half! As for the other two concerns, it is easy to feel like the first-years who arrived in the fall had an advantage in navigating the social challenges of college life. But don’t forget that there are more than a hundred other midyears and transfer students in the same boat as you. Sharing the challenges that come with settling into any new environment can make for the start of lasting friendships. In fact, I met some of my best friends on the very first day of orientation. 

Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to meet the non-Midyears as well. Make sure you attend the Winter Involvement Fair on January 19 to learn about the different clubs and student organizations on campus. Getting involved in groups that interest you is a great way to meet new faces. I was nervous to test the waters when I first arrived last year, but I am now entrenched in a variety of activities on campus including volunteering for the Waltham Group, Brandeis’s community outreach network, as well as editing for a student-led magazine, and of course writing for Brandeis’ own website. Keeping an open mind and broadening my interests has helped me find a purpose and a home here at Brandeis.

Regardless of what your initial reaction to being accepted as a Brandeis Midyear was, you came to the decision that it was the right choice for you. Whether your gap semester allowed you to travel and learn about new cultures, earn and save some money, or create a rich set of experiences unique to yourself, you deserve congratulations. In an unconventional circumstance, you saw an opportunity. I am glad you took it and ran. The whole campus is waiting eagerly to meet you! 

Good luck!

Mutiara (Class of 2022)

Categories: Student Life

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