Dear Admits: We’re Not as Cool as We Look

For me, one of the biggest perks of Spring Quarter — though it takes a distant second to bidding the Making of the Modern World program a tearless adieu — is the opportunity for artificial reinvention.

While I personally have yet to sign up for RIMAC salsa classes or organic chemistry, if the sorority hopefuls hustling to the shuttle stop by my apartment in fuck-me heels mean anything, it’s that spring is the season of change.

No better evidence of this fleeting reinvention exists, though, than Admit Day.

It’s a small 24-hour window to convince Mom, Pop and their new little admit that — barring all rumors that UCSD is home only to bio-nerds and KKK members in training — we’re actually a lively campus that promotes diversity, an active lifestyle and a host of other admissions-office buzzwords having little to do with our actual college experience.

The student-org leaders and financial-aid officers crowding Library Walk last Saturday were are all part of a careful illusion that our school is an impossibly welcoming bastion of higher learning — where there’s always someone to offer a friendly smile or full-color satire newspaper at every turn.

The strongest sell of all, though, is the unremitting SoCal sun, which somehow manages to part the clouds and shine down on freshman hopefuls in an act of divine interference on the second Saturday of April, every year, without fail. (Curiously enough, at press time, it’s in the low sixties and overcast. Excuse my resentment.)

Whether a clairvoyant meteorologist is enslaved in a heavily guarded room in the admissions office, I can’t be sure. But I do know that — for anyone whose home lies north of the La Jolla bubble — a campus flooded in sunshine and free food is a pretty strong sales pitch.

It’s also a misleading one. Of course, nowhere in any student-led campus tour or UCSD brochure might new freshmen — ink still wet on their Statements of Intent to Register — find any mention of the infuriating tangle of red tape at this university inhibiting everything from enrolling in classes needed to graduate on time to picking up a care package from home after 4 p.m.

And why would they? Wasting a Saturday on the real UCSD experience — the one comprised of Grade-D dining-hall mystery meat and lecture halls so huge they require prescription glasses — wouldn’t serve anyone’s interests.

Naturally, tablers on Admit Day (myself not excluded) are desperate for fresh meat to fill their soon-spacier org meetings.

I can’t help but think, though, after witnessing so much staged Library Walk merrymaking, that despite all the bureaucracy and undercooked chicken, it’s too bad the greatness of this place doesn’t stand on its own. Last I checked, the beach isn’t a short walk from UCLA or Berkeley, nor can they boast the almighty presence of Ben and Jerry in their dining halls.

Perhaps our admissions office doesn’t rank those advantages as highly as pamphlet-friendly headers like “diversity” or “community” — but it’s a shame the three-ring admissions circus overshadows what small joys UCSD actually can offer on the prettiest day of the year.

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