Katherine Tinder is a political science freshman. Letters to the editor do not reflect the viewpoints or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
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As the second day of Open House winds down, I am taken by a heavy nostalgia — for those wide-open days where for the first time the future is not a river to drift along, the end established, but a wide and reaching delta with tributaries offering endless choices.
You will no longer be in high school and your parents and old friends will not be here for you; you will shape your journey just as it will shape you.
You cannot see the miniscule twists and turns of the riverbed, you are high enough to see the bay sparkling in the distance. It’s quite far away. How will you get there, you ask. Do you have a plan? Drift, course, meander? Follow the deeply cut gorges of those gone before? What if you’re blown off course and find yourself at a different shore, one you never imagined?
And you do imagine. With the wide-open view, with the imagination comes excitement, anticipation, the shyness and uncertainty I see in the visiting students. Do I belong here? What will my life be like in one year? How will I be changed; what sort of person will I be? Here, or there? Where can this place take me? And there are the equally stress-inducing questions of money, major, transportation and where to live.
These students are right in the middle of an exhilarating and scary couple of months. Some may have wanted to curl up in a ball and hide from such imaginings. But for those lucky enough to get to our Open House, they must have been seduced by the spectacle: the plethora of booths, the alumni speakers, the eye-catching Rose Float, the perfect weather, nitrogen ice cream, inflatables, costumed club members, music and Mustang pride. How could they not want to be a Mustang too?
Whether we were drawn in by Open House, went with the cheapest option or dreamed about going here since we were 7 years old, we, too, chose this place. We stood at the top of the highest peak and gazed out at the world before us and we needed a guide.
Now that we have one, the paths perhaps seem less abundant, the distant shore less expansive. And once the seduction was over and we were finally here, we started noticing things that we did not necessarily choose when we imagined our time here. We complain about course registration, diversity, campus food, midterms, that teacher or this party, this disorganized event or that impossible roommate. We went shopping and our product has some defects.
This is the beauty of Open House: we now know what was hidden from us a year ago or two or three and a remarkably large number of us believe you should choose Cal Poly anyway; so much so that we will stand at a booth all day and try to convince you of it.
The prospective students have stopped here on a grand shopping trip, and they are fully aware that whatever product they choose will tangibly change their lives. We at Open House are selling hard not only for their money, but because we believe our product is the best to be had. We present them with success stories from happy customers and we lavish them with information and experiences that will stick with them when they go. If we have done our job well, they too will choose Cal Poly to be their guide.
At 4 p.m. I watch as the inflatable is deflated in front of the Kennedy Library. The spectacle is gone, and what is left is just the freshly mowed lawn surrounded by sidewalk, parking lot, mismatched buildings, students, staff and sunshine. The campus is alive with those who are still making hard choices, who have regrets and ambitions and who still see that sparkling shoreline in the distance and are drawn to it all the time.
Cal Poly, may you guide us well.