To the Class of 2025, welcome. We’re so glad you could make it. I’m sure it has been a long and tumultuous journey, but you’re here now. Congratulations.
To my beloved Class of 2024, we have a lot to be proud of. We made it through some of the most formative years of our lives during completely unprecedented times. And although we are far from returning back to normal, this year has some semblance of what life was like before the pandemic. In-person classes are resuming, varsity and club sports are returning, campus organizations and groups are starting back up — Tufts is starting to look like a college again.
As excited as I am for a more normal sophomore year, there is an interesting predicament at hand: we sophomores are pretty much first-years. Sure, we have a year of college classes under our belt and many of us have made meaningful connections, but just think about it — we have missed out on some of the most integral things that define the college experience.
While we are technically no longer first-year students, we somehow still are. There will be gaggles of first-years and sophomores wandering the academic quad, cautiously searching for their next class amidst a maze of hallways. Walking through a dining hall with comparative free rein is another novelty, where we will not be constrained to a line but will instead have the opportunity to explore, find a table with our friends and socialize to our heart’s desire. But that’s not all.
For many of us, this will be our first time in a lecture hall with over 100 people; a reality that will undoubtedly be difficult to navigate. Some first-year students went without any in-person classes last year, which means this semester will be their first opportunity to ever come face-to-face with their professors. And here’s the kicker: we’re not in high school anymore. Not only are the classes much larger for many of us, but the first-years and sophomores are the vast majority of students on campus, meaning a large mass of the student body is essentially new to Tufts.
This does put us sophomores in a tough situation. We have to adjust to our newfound position of seniority over a quarter of the student body and much of the leadership we now hold, all while trying to accustom ourselves to the campus and culture that we experienced only a fraction of last year. For many of us, some of our most tasking semesters lay directly ahead of us, which will make adjusting to “true” college life even more difficult. Not only that, but with all the opportunities for community building and engagement returning to campus, time management will come at a premium for many, where first-years and sophomores will have to juggle their academic obligations along with social and extracurricular ones.
What’s the bottom line? Put simply, we all just have to cut each other a whole lot of slack, and always spread Pax et Lux. There’s going to be a lot of confusion around campus for the foreseeable future, so we need to help our fellow Jumbos however we can. So upperclassmen, give your closest underclassmen a couple words of wisdom and some quick directions. And, my fellow sophomores, we need to help out our younger counterparts as well because this year, more than ever, we never know when we may be in their shoes.