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The Big Q

A dialogue on the big questions college students face. Like The Big Q now on Facebook to stay updated on the latest post and winners.

The following postings have been filtered by tag freshmen. clear filter
  •  Fast Friends: Rushing Intimate Relationships

    Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014

    We’ve all heard that “your greatest friends come in college”—those lifelong friends that you toast to at the Grand Reunion or dance the night away with at your wedding reception. As freshmen, we envision ourselves surrounded by this core group of loyal companions from the get-go. We’re expected to post pictures of our fabulous new BFFs on Facebook and form an inseparable clique within a matter of weeks.

    When we come to college, we don’t want to wait around. We need friends, and we need them quickly! We rush relationships. We talk about our successes and failures, our home lives and our love lives, our fears and our ambitions.  

    The problems arise when we over-share and try to force intimacy.  Relationships don’t need to be physical to be intimate; close friendships are intimate in an emotional way. Premature intimacy of any kind can lead to heartache.
    Imagine that you’ve had a rough day. For comfort, you confide in a new friend, Sam. After a night of venting, you decide to share a troubling secret—you feel safe.
    The next day, however, you’re approached by a stranger in the hallway.  The stranger places his hands on your shoulders, and says, “Hey, Sam told me what happened. Feel better!”
    What!? Your new friend spilled. You’re hurt, but you doubt that Sam shared your secret maliciously. Either way, what do you do? There’s an imbalance of trust.
     
    Healthy relationships depend upon a strong foundation of trust, and trust takes time. Think carefully about your closest friends. How long have they been around? Many of our dearest friends have held prominent positions in our lives for one, five, or maybe even ten years. Often, you’ve grown up with one another, from the toddler diaper days to the teenaged braces phase. You’ve seen everything—the good and the bad. You’ve endured catty high school drama or vigorous sports team practices side-by-side. You know each other inside and out.
     
    During the beginning of college anonymity seems devastating, yet friendships with unreciprocated trust may sting just as badly.  What has been your experience with friendship in college?  When do you know you can trust someone?  How do you define true friendship?
     
     
  •  Five Ethical Dilemmas Freshmen Face

    Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014
    Welcome Weekend and Move-In Day finally arrive—the culmination of the longest summer of a freshman’s life. Lines of fully packed SUVs wrap campus, bulging with mattress pads, futons, and Container Store bags. Students pulse with excitement and fidget with nervous energy. In the dorms, parents sort boxes and hang photos, while freshmen begin to contemplate the placement of a something especially significant—themselves.
     
    During the first year of college, there’s a whole lot of new. Change lies in the far edges of an unknown campus, behind the door of a co-inhabited room, and underneath the cover of a thick, intimidating textbook. We’re bombarded with questions surrounding new faces, a new school, and a new routine.
     
    Often, freshmen face the following questions and conflicts that test their conscience and push new boundaries.
     
    1.    Do I have to conform? It’s human nature—everyone wants to fit in. We want to feel comfortable, accepted, and loved.  When making friends proves difficult, conformity seems to triumph over individuality. To an outsider, social skills and popularity render instant happiness. During freshmen year, students often ask themselves, how much of me am I willing to forfeit?  Am I willing to lie about who I am?
     
    2.    Do I pick a major based on passion or post-graduate salary? Many freshmen hear a piece of conventional wisdom, “Minor in what you love, but major in what gets you a job.” College students stand at a pivotal crossroads in their lives, torn by conflicting voices. In one ear, we hear encouraging whispers of pursuing passions; in the other, we’re fed constant reminders of debt, expense, and the pressure to provide.
     
    3.    Do I have to adhere to “hookup culture”? We’ve all heard our friends’ and parents’ stories about finding love in college. Today, the hype over casual hookups seems to squash the idea of the classic, committed relationship. Do couples even meet in class anymore? Many freshmen enter the first year with an idea of the “norm” already in place—the courting happens after hours, often with a drink in hand. Is casual sex okay?
     
    4.    How do I live with someone else? In college, roommates present gifts and challenges, all in one. Soon, moments of “me time” shrink from entire evenings to convenient class schedule incongruencies. On move-in day some freshmen meet lifelong best friends; others meet acquaintances. Regardless of the situation, freshmen quickly learn that they’ll have to address both trivial and complex roommate conflicts. How do I tell someone that his or her behavior bothers me? What’s normal, and what constitutes “crossing the line”?
     
    5.    Do I party? The media broadcasts that college life revolves around one thing—parties. We hear the message loud and clear. A typical night involves keg stands, sweaty, packed basements, and an endless supply of potent drinks, right? Freshmen ask themselves, do I have to party to fit in? Does everyone drink?  Unfortunately, the consequences of underage binge drinking (including it’s illegality) outlast the day-after headache. What does partying mean for my reputation?
     

     

  •  Go Greek or Go Home

    Monday, Jan. 6, 2014

    The first 20 student comments on "Go Greek or Go Home" win a $5 Yiftee gift certificate to a local business of your choice! Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, January 19th, 2014. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Stefano is a freshman at a small college called Hinchley University. Although Hinchley doesn’t recognize Greek life, there are plenty of nationally recognized fraternities and sororities off campus.
     
    Even before Stefano applied to college, he knew he wanted to rush a fraternity. His father was in a fraternity and always told Stefano that he gained valuable life lessons out of his experience that shaped who he became as an individual. When Stefano gets to Hinchley, however, he is disappointed that his father’s fraternity doesn’t have a chapter at his school. He forgets about rushing a fraternity until winter quarter comes around and fraternities host rush week.
     
    Stefano decides to attend rush week to see if he can find an organization that fits his mold. He’s looking for fraternity brothers who care about academics as much as socializing and who walk the talk supporting worthwhile philanthropies. At the end of rush, Stefano thinks he’s found just what he wants in a fraternity called “Alpha Iota.”
     
    Alpha Iota extends Stefano a bid and he accepts. Soon, however, Stefano finds some of his fraternity brothers are not the kind of guys he really wants to hang around with. While a lot of the members are great, several others both publically and privately show disrespect towards other fraternities and all women on and off campus. In addition, there is hostility between the brothers themselves that Stefano didn’t see during rush. He soon finds out it may be from hazing the pledges are forced to undertake.
     
    Only a couple days into his pledge period, on a Monday night, Stefano is locked in a dark basement with his pledge brothers. First, they are instructed to finish a keg of beer amongst the 25 pledges. After this, they are forced to stay awake all night, still locked in the basement, by blasting music and active brothers going around slapping pledges awake who fall asleep.
     
    Stefano finds himself torn. He’d like to belong to a fraternity so that he has a good social network on campus. But should he continue to go through the pledge period to join this exclusive club, even though he doesn’t respect some of the members and he doesn’t feel comfortable with the hazing?
     
    Do you believe the desire to be in a Greek organization—even one that hazes—should outweigh a college student’s moral conscience? If you were forced to do something you didn’t want to do to join an exclusive organization, would you do it? Or would you walk away, knowing that dropping out will affect your social life at college? If you are involved with Greek life, is there something the organization could do that would make you reevaluate your allegiance? If so, what?
     
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
     
    Photo by Donald Harrison available under a Creative Commons license.
  •  To Snitch or Not To Snitch?

    Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013

    The best student comment on "To Snitch or Not To Snitch?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, September 15th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
     
    Joseph is a collegiate athlete. He used to play three sports in high school: football, basketball, and track. When he came to college, Joseph decided to row crew in order to stay in peak athletic shape. He had never rowed crew before in his life. While many would think that it is a difficult transition for him “on the field,” or in the boat in this case, he is finding it most difficult to transition to life in a college dorm.
     
    Joseph’s crew schedule is such that he has to wake up earlier than the average college student. He often has to be at practice at 6 am. In order to stay alert and perform to the best of his ability, Joseph sleeps early and doesn’t drink alcohol while crew is in season. While he doesn’t have a problem with students drinking alcohol and being drunk in the dorms, he gets annoyed when they are loud and keep him awake at night.
     
    Joseph’s roommate, Greg, doesn’t take part in collegiate athletics. He enjoys staying up late, drinking alcohol socially, and going to parties. As a result, Greg often leaves the room a mess with the smell of alcohol lingering. Greg also tends to wander into the room at late hours and wake Joseph up. Joseph has talked with Greg about trying to stay clean and keeping it down, especially on Friday nights because crew regattas are early on Saturday mornings.
     
    One Friday night, Greg and a few of the other dorm residents are drinking and being loud in the common areas. Joseph can hear them as he tries to sleep to prepare for the regatta in the morning. He sends Greg a text asking him to keep it down, but thirty minutes later they seem to be making even more noise. Joseph calls campus safety and files a noise complaint. As a result, the dorm quiets down but Greg and his friends are caught drinking in the common area and receive fines and community service.
     
    Should Joseph have reported the incident to campus safety? Is it wrong for Joseph to request his dorm mates respect that he has to wake up early to row crew? Does Greg have a right to be upset at his roommate? Do you find that college students are inconsiderate of their surroundings on campus? Do students often treat dorms as a party scene as opposed to a home? 
     
    Useful Resources:
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Photo by Jason Wun available under a Creative Commons license.
  •  Crusading at the Dinner Table

    Monday, Aug. 19, 2013

    The best student comment on "Crusading at the Dinner Table" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, September 1st, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

     
    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**


    Towards the end of her senior year of high school, Grace volunteered for a local animal rights organization. Although she was always an animal lover, she had never really considered the issue of animals being raised to be eaten. During her time with the organization, she became passionate about animal rights and became a vegetarian. She was also able to convince her parents to become vegetarians.

    Now a new freshman, Grace faces a dilemma. Everyone around her seems to eat meat. Though the dining hall offers plenty of vegetarian options, she is unhappy about the presence of meat as a constant feature among the offerings.

    Grace isn’t able to put aside her feelings about the suffering of animals. Going by her own experience of having her eyes opened to the cause, Grace is convinced that spreading knowledge about the suffering of farm animals is the only way of converting more people into vegetarians.

    On one hand, she feels she has a duty, when sitting at a table with people who are consuming meat, to express her beliefs. On the other hand, she knows that directly confronting people about their choices tends to alienate them. She would like to establish good relationships and friendships with the people around her, but she would also like to express her beliefs and teach people about her cause. Should Grace confront her friends at the dining table?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Stand Up, Speak Out: The College Student's Guide to Activism

    Ethics Guide: Eating Animals

     

    Photo by Ben Isacat available under a Creative Commons license.

  •  Homework or Teamwork?

    Monday, Jul. 8, 2013

    The best student comment on "Homework or Teamwork" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, July 21th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    Kim was a star soccer player in high school and hopes to continue playing in college. The college she will be attending has Division III women’s soccer, and the coach is anxious for Kim to join the team.

    However, her college is also very challenging academically. She’s heard from some people on the team that, especially during the season, it’s better to take easier classes so you can go to practices and games, and also get your work done without stressing. Kim doesn’t feel comfortable following this advice because she really chose her college because of its strong academic reputation. On the other hand, she doesn’t want to settle for intramural soccer, which she thinks won’t allow her to play up to her potential.

    What role should sports play in Kim’s college life?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Grading College Athletes

    College Athletes: Academic Performance: Behind the Line on Grades

     

    Photo by Jeremy Wilburn available under a Creative Commons license.

  •  Home Sweet Home

    Friday, Jun. 21, 2013

    The best student comment on "Home Sweet Home" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, July 7th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

    **DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

    After a long, tough finals week, Sophia has completed her freshman year of college. She can’t believe how fast the year went. She made many new friends and experienced the freedom of independence, living away from her parents for the first time in her life. Now, it’s summer break, and Sophia is returning home to work for a local restaurant. All she wants to do during break is work, go to the gym, and hang out with her old high school friends.

    Sophia’s parents are very strict and like to know where she is at all times. They also enjoy having her at home to spend time with the family, and stress the importance of academics and getting good grades. In high school, Sophia often had to stay home at nights when her friends were getting together. When Sophia was allowed out, she had to return home before her parents went to bed at midnight.

    Sophia has gotten used to the freedom of college, however. She’s 19 now, after all. She enjoys being spontaneous, making her own choices, not having to report her coordinates to her parents at all times, and staying out late. That being said, she has still been able to maintain over a 3.7 cumulative GPA in her first year at college.

    Several days after returning home for break, Sophia’s best friend from high school decides to host a reunion party. Sophia works from 10am to 4pm at the restaurant, heads to the gym, and makes it home in time for dinner at 6pm.

    At the dinner table, Sophia tells her parents she is going to the reunion party in a couple of hours. While Sophia loves to be spontaneous, her parents love to schedule out their plans well ahead of time. They inform Sophia that they’ve planned a family night and that she needs to be home to spend time with her two younger siblings.

    Conversation turns into argument. Sophia claims she is independent now and can make her own decisions. Her parents state that while she is still living under their roof, she needs to listen to their judgment. They stress they are not being the “fun police,” but are emphasizing family values. If Sophia would have told them ahead of time, they claim they would have let her go. 

    Sophia pretends to go to bed upset and sneaks out to go to the party.

    Should Sophia have snuck out to go to the party? Have you ever snuck out from home? Is Sophia independent? Should she be able to make her own decisions at home? Is it fair for Sophia’s parents to ask her to plan ahead of time, or should she be allowed to continue her spontaneous nature? Is there a point of compromise?

    Useful Resources:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

    Social Intelligence: Returning Home from College for the Summer

     

  •  Living Situations

    Monday, Aug. 22, 2011

     Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate. Responses must be received by midnight August 29, 2011

     

    With his acceptance to his first-choice school, a medium-sized private university far from his hometown, Mo gets a package of information about his options for dorm living. He’s heard a lot about the various Residential Learning Communities on campus, each of which focuses on a different theme. As an African American, Mo is interested in exploring his racial and cultural identity, so he’s drawn to the African American–themed dorm, United. But then he wonders whether living in United will limit his interactions with students from other communities. He doesn’t want to be defined entirely by being African American, but he also doesn’t want to feel isolated in a dorm where there may be no other African American students.

    Should Mo choose the United dorm knowing it may allow him the best chance to explore his ethnic identity, or should he opt for another residence hall where the dorm’s theme may attract a wider variety of students?

    Some resources you may find useful:

    A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

    The Impact of Diversity on College Students

    Why Does Diversity Matter in College Anyways?

     

    Photo by Derek Severson available under Attribution- Non Commercial- No Derivs License.

     

  •  Why Am I Here?

    Tuesday, Jul. 5, 2011

    $50 Amazon giftcard for best comment.  Deadline Sunday, July 10, midnight.

    Junior and senior year in high school sometimes seemed like one long slog to Christina.  Between the PSATs, the SATs, the APs, the ACTs, her GPA, her sports practices, and her job tutoring, everything was oriented toward polishing her resume and getting her into college.

    She went through the entire application process because that's what everyone expected her to do.  Now she was in, an undeclared freshman, she couldn't help wondering what she was doing here.  Was it right for her to be spending so much of her parents' money on college when she didn't even know what she wanted to study?  Was she taking the slot of someone else who would have really known what she wanted from her education?  Was college just going to be a repeat of that stressful high school experience, where she felt like she was always preparing for the future but not really living her life?