Flannel shirts and thick-framed glasses, paired with hush puppies and dark-washed jeans, topped with a gray beanie. And make them all vintage-looking, while we’re at it.
That is how most of the world imagines New York University students to look like. Apparently, we are the number one “hipster” school in America. But this school is not for the one who judges. We don’t bask in the norms of stereotypes. We may embrace them and condemn them as something “mainstream”, but New York University is not a place where students accept labels. After all, college is one of the few places that grant you four years of breaking the barriers of stereotypes (or falling into one).
Some may say otherwise. NYU is where stereotypes come to thrive. Since the student body represents so many diverse people from all across the globe, there must be stereotypes that sprout here and there. Look at Tisch students, for example, they are known as the artistic types because they attend one of the top schools in drama, film, photography, et cetera. Or Stern students who attend one of the top business schools in the nation; many envision them with suits and some “sternness” about them. And recently, I found out that my school, Liberal Studies, is for those who are undecided with their majors (I like to see ourselves as the explorers). Personally, I would like to conjecture that these acts of stereotypes thrive at NYU at times because of the location: New York City. Tourists are judged every day and newcomers to the city life are also judged. Even businessmen and women are judged. But where in the world doesn’t?
New York University is one of the greatest places to attend if one is looking for a haven of individuality and uniqueness. No one will tell you to strip off your identity because you need to look more “college” or more “cool”. You bring yourself and adapt to the differing circumstances. Since the school is located in one of the busiest and most thriving cities in the world, there are more things to care about than just your public image, such as finding your way to your classes (which, from personal experience, can be difficult when there are hoards of yellow taxis and commuters surrounding you at eight in the morning).
College is no different from high school when it comes to meeting new people; even the maturity level might stay the same—or dip in some areas because there are no barriers thwarting recent high school graduates from saying and doing whatever they want. But in a wider sense, people are different and you tend to meet other students who are less judgmental of whom you are. This is where our minds should stay objective but still have the ability to discern. Since most college students have recently graduated from high school and are still living in the norms of judgments, it is quite apparent that they apply the high school ways of confining others’ individuality with first-impression assumptions and labels. When I was in high school, I constantly thought about what others thought; there was no time for me to realize the concept of my own entity. It was only until senior year that I realized I should follow this mantra: You do you. Just like how Shailene Woodley, star of the Divergent series and recently The Fault in Our Stars, said, “You gotta wave your own flags, you know?”
I am not going to lie: stereotypes are inevitable. I talk about this in one of my blog posts on dazedculture.wordpress.com, where I am heavily against the use and existence of stereotypes. But since then, upon spending the later half of 2014 on campus at New York University, I realized that stereotypes can act as a barrier between stranger and self. We use first-impression judgments in order to protect ourselves from what and whom we don’t know.
I chose New York University because of its global presence and growing academic achievements. I also chose this school because I thought it was a great opportunity to enter the adult world as a solute in a solution. I arrived at NYU and one of the first things I noticed was that people are open. Of course, sometimes I feel judged, but so what? Judging is a natural process of the subjective mind. Bill Russell once said, “It is more important to understand than to be understood.” High school gives you the time to be understood. NYU gives you the opportunity to become the Understander. You become the initiator of thoughts and discernment, allowing your mind to roam around selflessly in a realm with no boundaries.