Goodbye Brandeis, I’m ready to move on
As a graduating senior, I’m sure many of my peers can relate because I can’t wait to get off this campus. I have wanted to leave since I first arrived as a mid-year student in January 2020, so this has been a long time coming. Was it worth it to stick it out and finish my degree? I’m not sure.
I was accepted to Brandeis as a mid year student in the spring of 2019. At first, I just saw the confetti on the webpage and didn’t look further at what the actual letter said; it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I saw that I wouldn’t be attending in the fall like all the other students, but rather, I was chosen as a “special” group to enter in the spring 2020 semester instead.
I didn’t have a choice in the matter; if I was going to attend Brandeis, it was either as a midyear or not at all. I ultimately chose Brandeis because the financial aid package they offered me was too good to turn down. The deal still upset me because I had to wait longer to matriculate into college and I had no say.
I am thankful for the opportunity to gain work experience during my midyear semester. However, that experience was the first of many times I encountered inaccessibility here. I got to study abroad through Brandeis during my gap semester in the fall of 2019, but they neglected to mention that I wouldn’t be fully enrolled as a Brandeis student until Jan. 1 and would not have access to my financial aid package. This lack of communication put my family in a situation to pay upwards of $10,000 in study abroad bills out of pocket.
After trying out all my options — crying and begging my family to somehow come up with that money out of thin air — I did not study abroad that semester.
Instead, I worked three different retail jobs to save extra spending money at school.With the administration issues, COVID-19, the parking tickets, and the overwhelming sense of melancholy flooding this campus at all times, the vibes here were almost always miserable.
I have had nearly no “college experience.” My experience over the past 3-ish years has been full of parking tickets — I finished my degree with 105 parking tickets total — endless assignments, a small handful of friends, a changed personality, and no free time.
Overall, the primary reason I stayed here was my outstanding education over the past three years, which was worth it. Every professor I had has been incredible, and I have learned so much from them. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t have traded this experience for another.
However, I also shouldn’t have had to conform to a specific standard of speaking and acting to be taken seriously in my courses. I go home now and find that I have been forcing myself to assimilate to this school’s community for so long that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to fit in with my community — the one I fought so hard to represent here at Brandeis.
I shouldn’t have to see current students from my high school touring the campus and warn them not to come here because they wouldn’t fit in. Shockingly, my biggest issue at Brandeis does not lie within the administrative issues, but with the inaccessible culture the students and faculty have created and upheld here.
People cannot change where they come from, but I wish the people I’ve interacted with could acknowledge their privilege. A privileged perspective shouldn’t be the only proper perspective to succeed at Brandeis. Those who don’t conform shouldn’t be pressured into changing or be silenced because they don’t “fit in.”
I have even been pretty successful as far as extracurriculars and jobs here; I have held a position in the archives of the library for the past two years, I’ve become the undergraduate departmental representative of the Independent Interdisciplinary Major program, I ran the social media for the Journalism department, and I became Advertising editor at the Justice this spring.
Although I’m proud of my achievements at this University, they don’t make up for the overwhelming sense that I haven’t belonged here. That sense may be proper. It’s well known that higher education is intended for those who can afford it and inaccessible to anyone else.
Fortunately, my experiences at Brandeis have accurately prepared me for the professional working world after graduation. I think it’s hypocritical of Brandeis to favor an elite, white perspective given its founder Louis Brandeis’ “commitment to helping the common man” in pursuing an education, being the first university of its kind to “bridge the gap between social welfare and social policy.”
It’s common knowledge that the rest of the world favors the elite. If nothing else, I’m thankful I learned how to fit in before being sent off into the professional world. Unfortunately, Brandeis didn’t serve as the best buffer for me before I was sent off into the corporate world to interact with rich, white men who would talk over me for the rest of my life as I entered the job market.
Overall, my time here was tumultuous because I never felt like I was fully embedded in the campus community. However, the relationships I’ve made with my professors and the education I achieved made spending my time here worth it.