Student Profiles Week: Howard Through the Years

Humans of Howard | Allex Coles | April 7, 2016

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Happy Student Profiles Week, y’all! For those of you who have spent any time at Howard, I’m hoping to paint a familiar and accurate picture of the students surrounding you. For those of you accepted students (hey, there, #HU20), here’s a little taste of what to expect:

The Howard Freshman

Freshman move-in excites you and makes your nervous. All of the screaming, cheering people made you smile to yourself but they also made you question the culture of this school; after all, how many times in your life have you been greeted by strangers that enthusiastic? You stand in that line you’re so sure will never end and steal glances at all of the other slightly-nerved up people around you, trying to figure you out which one is going to be sleeping in the bed across from you for the next eight months.

This year, you learn to identify weave in an instant, for those of us who weren’t totally fluent in Black-hair-ology, and you definitely discover the miracles of edge control. You’re still coping with the fact that for all COAS students, swimming is a requirement along with two physical education courses that you thought you’d left behind in those formative high school years.

You’ll hear countless, “HU [INSERT YOUR YEAR HERE]? That sounds so weird,” and the realization that freshman year is actually just your 13th year of high school becomes a sound reality. It’s still pretty early in this whole journey, but you’ll have had one simple question about your account and been sent from the A-Building, to Blackburn, to Carnegie, and right back to the A-Building to the very same person who sent you away in the first place and leave with a random hold on your account. (Don’t worry, in a couple of years you’ll have learned to laugh about it.)

The Howard Sophomore

This is the year you know you’ve gotten it all figured out. You know how to go out—no more trudging through just any type ofweather for a $5 house party, and whatever your freshman roommate-horror stories were are surely a part of your past. At this point, you may have changed your major three or four times, but now you KNOW you’re studying exactly what you want to be. The professional world is so much closer than you think, so you start looking for upperclassmen mentors who have got the good advice. “You’ve definitely got to take Ian Smart’s Spanish IV class—just buy his book and you’re golden.” (But gone are those days, since the Spanish department finally caught on.)

You start sniffing out the orgs with a cautious nose, because those jackets are nice and this is the brother or sisterhood you’ve been patiently waiting for. Before you know it, “discretion” becomes the most used word in your vocabulary and you’re chasing the heels of some AKA trying to make that perfect impression. Sophomore year is primetime for you to drag your GPA out of that hole that you might have dug Freshman year, because it’s the most relaxed and the pressures aren’t too high. But there’s still a lot to learn.

The Howard Junior

I speak very fondly of this year because, for me, it’s been the best year. By now you’ve forgotten that special voice you reserve only for the white folk, but you still pull it out for special occasions, like the interview you just landed with a little help from Howard’s networking magic. You’ve found yourself in the right places at the right times, and not too much can shake you. You’ve probably participated in a few marches, a couple sit-ins, or maybe a die-in. The activist in you is now refined and securely attached to your day-to-day persona. By now, you might be over the whole party scene—spare Homecoming and the long awaited Black and Boujee. (Expert excuse makers call these events exceptions to the rule.)

You know and accept the fact that the Towers are a mice-ridden dump, but you relish in your alone time and in the dollars that you’re not being forced to dole out to Sodexo. You snort every time you hear that renovations are being made in any building because you know that renovations are actually just slapping a little off-colored paint onto the walls. But you’re over it. Low stress. It’s a great year.

The Howard Senior

Finally. You may have been here 8, 9, or maybe 12 semesters, now, but you know the game; your mantra is simply, “I’m just trying to get out of here.” But you say this with as much affection as you do disdain, because if you really wanted to transfer, you’d have done it a long time ago.

You’re used to the celebrities who visit your campus, and by now you know that Homecoming is more about the tailgate and the parties than the game. You know your department well, and hopefully you’re not fretting over the senior comprehensive exam that no other schools seem to make their students take. You know your friends, your professors, and you know your system. In other words, your finesse game is graded A+. You’re lining up jobs and research opportunities, and your future is looking ever clearer. And, quite frankly, some of your dirtiest fantasies are of yourself just strutting across that stage in your cap and gown. You made it to the finish line of a winding cross-country road, but you’ve done it.

Sound familiar at all? Maybe, maybe not. We certainly all have our own, unique Howard narrative, but some plot elements just can’t be left out.