The Freshman Guide to Looking Like an Upperclassman

Sarah P Reid

Must dodge tourists.

Welcome, Class of 2016! All your hard work (or lies) paid off and you should be proud to be a freshman at Harvard. But if you’re not, and are instead ashamed to be once again at the bottom of your school’s caste system, here is some helpful advice for masquerading as an upperclassman.

How to Dress

First, take off your Class of 2016 t-shirt. It is a dead giveaway. You should never wear it. Exception: If going to a final club, you will want to wear it to advertise the fact that you are young and naïve.

Next, ditch the lanyard. Just throw your keys and ID in your backpack. Don’t worry too much about losing your keys, because you won’t need them. Sleeping in the freshmen dorms is another dead giveaway that you're, um, a freshman, so just find a couch in Lamont. Or, if you did FOP, start a new Occupy movement and pitch a tent in the yard.

How to Get Around

Like wild dogs and cigarettes, freshmen always travel in packs. This ensures that, when they get lost in the desolate wilds of Cambridge, there will always be enough people to breed a new civilization. It is tempting to follow suit, but if you want to look like an upperclassman when you're walking to lunch or class, it is best to walk alone or in pairs. If you are worried about safety you can always carry pepper spray. That should keep the tourists away.

And remember, never use your map or ask for directions. Upperclassmen always pretend like they know where they are going, and you should, too. You will probably get lost looking for your classes, but the best thing about shopping week is that you can just interrupt any class and pretend that you actually intended to be there. If you end up stumbling into an upper division math class or a senior tutorial, bonus points!: you will look even older.

How to Talk

In reality, it is best to keep your speech to a bare minimum—an eagerness to speak is characteristic of all freshmen. Grunts and spastic hand gestures will not only be an appropriate response to most questions, but will make you look cool and indifferent, just like an upperclassman. Some may even assume you’ve spent too much time experimenting with illicit substances, and you know what that means...more upperclassmen cool points.

If you're accused of being mute or your roommates threaten to stage an intervention, you may have to say something. So you can prepare to answer the basics. If people ask you what your concentration is, have a minor existential meltdown—they will assume you are a sophomore. If people ask you what you did this summer, tell them you worked on your thesis at the National Archives of Sweden or spread AIDS awareness to elephants in Thailand or something.

So congratulations! You may be friendless, homeless, and taking all advanced physics classes, but at least everyone will think you are a lonely, homeless, and (struggling) upperclassman. Which, of course, is preferable to being a freshman.

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