A First-Year Spring Admit (FYSA)

That’s a mouthful, especially when you have to explain this concept multiple times a day.

Thankfully, the admission letter I received started with a “Congratulations,” but was followed by a sentence clarifying that the offer didn’t start until January 2019. As excited and nervous as I was in that moment, I had to re-read multiple times to make sure that this still meant that I was accepted.

In the following days, I did my research on this program and learned that each year Cornell selects about 60 students to start their college experience in the spring semester.

The fall months fly by, and finally it was move-in day! I was so excited that I ended up moving in a day early. It all felt surreal: picking up my Student ID and my room keys, and walking into my dorm for the first time. Then, orientation came around and I finally got to meet everyone. A room full of new faces and excited voices. While everyone else seems to have college figured out, the fact that we are sharing this experience of having taken a gap semester and are starting off as clueless FYSAs together gives us a reason to depend on each other.

I’ve only been here a month, but I realized it’s the not-so-significant moments that make a FYSA experience special. Having to walk to orientation events while the snowstorm raged on, living in a practically empty dorm, and the many incidents of finding myself underdressed for the weather are all memories that I shared with the other FYSA’s.

Once classes started, Cornell was a whole new world. All of a sudden, I had to explain to people what a “FYSA” was. Despite my efforts in describing the difference, I was constantly taken aback by questions like “So, you’re a transfer student?”. Besides classes, going to libraries became a part of my daily routine. My planner became a stress-relieving tool, and I would check my workload before making plans with friends. As abrupt as these changes were, I had my FYSA friends to come back to at the end of the day, and seeing them was like making it back to home-base. During the day, I would venture out into the unknown,  but then come back home at night to find comfort.

It’s been well over a month since I arrived at Cornell, and I’ve gained some understanding of what it’s like to start school a semester late. Here are some of the important lessons I’ve learned.  

  1. It takes a tiny bit of extra effort to make friends. Yes, most fall students have already found their core group of friends, but that doesn’t mean people are not open to making new ones. Think back to high school. Everyone there had friends, but every year as classes changed, you met even more people. It’s basically the same here.
  2. As classes start, you will soon realize that whether you are a spring or a fall admit, everyone is starting from ground zero. Each new class that you take is a new start. So technically, everyone’s in the same boat, and there’s nothing separating FYSAs from the rest of the student population. Remember that everything will fall into place with time. Don’t rush anything. You will find your group of friends, and you will have fun, so just take things one step at a time.
  3. Do not think of your time off as a weakness; rather, it is your strength. Thanks to my longer break, I was ‘recharged’ and so ready to learn upon coming here. 

In the end, being a FYSA is an experience in and of itself. As an international student, coming to the U.S. to study is a lot of work considering the logistics and the legal procedures. Thanks to the few extra months I spent not in school, I was able to dedicate enough time to what really matters: family, friends and loved ones. I had proper and not-so-rushed good-byes, and now that I’m here, I can focus on the present and make the most of my time at Cornell. Looking back, I have no regrets about past things I should have done.

College is a big change, so starting it with some level of self-understanding and light emotional baggage is very important. I think my time off enabled me to learn a lot about myself and work on some of my weaknesses. I used to be an overthinker and a worrier, but these past months I’ve managed to get it under control quite well.  I also had the chance to deal with unresolved residue of past intrinsic and extrinsic issues that would not have been possible without the extra time that being a FYSA gave me.

So even though the path that I took as a FYSA is not traditional nor ideal, it is my own and I’m very proud of it. I can proudly say that this experience is my strength, not my weakness.

 

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