Rye’s rising college freshmen, or “prefrosh,” are often expected to act and feel a certain way:
By Daphne Mandell
Rye’s rising college freshmen, or “prefrosh,” are often expected to act and feel a certain way: thrilled to pour through course catalogues, excited to pick out new bedding, and eager to make new friends as they matriculate at the university of their choice. After years of working tirelessly to get good grades and excel in extra-curricular activities, students are told to feel nothing but tremendous appreciation and gratitude as they embark upon what are supposed to be “the best four years of their lives.” Outgoing grads are supposed to immediately cast aside the 18 years spent cultivating friendships and memories in Rye’s idyllic bubble and subsequently embrace the opportunity to become cultured and diversified as they leave for college and never look back.
Going to college is an undeniable privilege and opportunity, and one that many advantaged students often take for granted. The process of leaving for college, however, is often romanticized. Instead of being a time dedicated solely to racing toward the future, the weeks between high school graduation and college orientation can, and should, be a time to celebrate and cherish the past.
Rye, in particular, fosters a community that is hard to leave behind. Many students have followed the same track from their elementary school to Rye High, some have gone all the way from Kindergarten to 12th grade at Rye Country Day or Rye Neck, and plenty have carved their own educational path through some combination. Regardless of the site of one’s schooling, anyone growing up in Rye has had the opportunity to reap the benefits of each school’s academic renown while simultaneously becoming immersed in life on Purchase Street. And while there is an innumerable list of things I will miss when I depart for college in the fall, my family, friends, and the iced coffee from Hand Rolled Bagels among them, I’m especially sad to leave behind the life I’ve built in Rye.
I love how I’m personally greeted with my order already prepared when I walk into Al Dente, how my name is already inscribed on my coffee cup in Starbucks, and how they roll their eyes at Plush Blow because they know how long it takes to blow out my hair. I love how when I walk to work at Nest, I pass by my best friend working in Angela’s, and can wave to the Rye Country Day cross-country team racing down the sidewalk. But what I love the most is how almost every single person I know who has grown up in Rye has their own list of the same kind of intimate and distinctive connections that keep them eating in the same restaurants, shopping in the same stores, and drawing them back to Purchase Street regardless of where else they go.
And while these relationships provide for a warm and secure upbringing, their uniqueness also makes leaving for college doubly hard. Because although Rye-bred students are exceedingly well prepared to go to college and encounter opportunities to meet amazing people, research in first-class facilities, and travel around the world, they will always bear both the gift and the curse of having a home that they feel compelled to return to.
Because of this, and because each person has a totally different reaction to leaving home, rising college freshmen should know that it’s okay to be sad. Yes, it is an incredible opportunity that you should take full advantage of, but it’s also a huge adjustment. It’s okay to be apprehensive about leaving the family, friends, and environment that have nurtured you for your whole life as you begin the next chapter. It’s okay to miss them, and the Coffee Chunk ice cream from Longford’s, because no matter where you are this month, Rye will be waiting with open arms when you return for Thanksgiving.
The author, a 2015 Rye Country Day School graduate, just started her freshman year at Princeton.