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What to Know as an Incoming Freshman at Emerson

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emerson chapter.

The closures started with colleges. On March 9, Amherst College announced that students would be asked to leave campus for the rest of the semester when they packed up for spring break the following Friday. The news media was shaken. Soon, colleges across the country joined in by the dozens, dropping in-person classes in favor of Zoom meetups, the COVID-19 virus spreading through nearby Boston and Middlesex County. Harvard. BU. Simmons. Brandeis. Northeastern. MIT. Suffolk. Then Emerson

The world has progressed a lot more since then, most states practicing social-distancing and shutting down nonessential businesses. No one knows how long it will last. Some states have already opened their doors. But it definitely puts transitioning students in an uncomfortable position. College seniors may be graduating without a commencement ceremony while high school juniors and seniors are deciding on colleges they’ve never seen or talked to. On-campus tours are canceled. Many offices are temporarily closed or limited. Courses are uncertain for the fall. That leaves a lot for guessing. So, if you’re thinking about Emerson, here are some things to know about the institution (for when we’re up and running). 

We are RIGHT in the city.

This might come as a shock to those who visit, but the Emerson College campus sits right on the Boston Common (and has the view to match). Dorm rooms. Dining hall. Classrooms. Library. It’s all right there. This can be great if you’re looking for a cityscape with some breaking room, but if not, you might want to look elsewhere. Squatting the North End (cute Italians restaurants and bakeries open 24/7), the South End (trendy late-night restaurants and bars), Chinatown (great food and late-night snacks), Beacon Hill and Back Bay (super-expensive brownstone houses you see in movies) and downtown (walking-only streets), there is always something new and exciting going on. It’s a normal occurrence to walk up and down the iconic Freedom Trail on your way to lunch or Starbucks, seeing people dressed as British soldiers and Colonists in full tour costume walk down the streets like everyone else. Duck boat patrons wave on your way to class. A historical graveyard may be right outside your Intro to College Writing class. If that’s your thing, great! If not, you’ve been warned.

Boston is beautiful—but it’s not New York.

Okay, I know I just said all those really cool city-things, but let’s get this straight, we are not New York. We’re close (physically). A few friends of mine have taken the train to New York for the weekend or a cool Broadway show. But we’re not nearly as big as New York. Greater Boston has 4.7 million people, including nearby cities like Cambridge (think Harvard and MIT), Wellesley (rich suburbs and Hillary Clinton’s undergrad), and Allston (good thrift stores and cheap apartments). Lights stay on all night and the skyline is breathtaking, but subway trains (called “the T”) only run until midnight. The club scene is mainly late-night Irish bars. We favor trendy restaurants and picnics on the Common, and walking down Newbury Street window-shopping designer stores and spending an afternoon by the water at the Esplanade. The city is beautiful and full of opportunity, but if you’re looking for New York City, prepare to be disappointed.

We don’t have a football team.

I know. I know. My father’s dreams were crushed. Though we do have DIII athletes on campus (often walking in packs and full Emerson gear), sports aren’t a huge thing in general here. Give an art-school kid a break. 

We do sell pretty funny football t-shirts at the bookstore, reading “Undefeated since 1880” (our founding date, since we’ve never had a team), but that’s about it. In fact, that’s pretty common for a Boston school. No college in the city limits has a football team. BU has a soccer field, but that’s about all the metropolis can fit. Emerson athletics teams are driven out to nearby fields for practice and games. There is nothing in the city limits big enough. The closest football teams are Harvard and Boston College. 

Guess you’ll just have to become a Pats fan. We’ve got plenty of rings to prove ourselves.

We’re very liberal.

Oh yeah. That’s an understatement. Expect an annual protest of some sort. Expanding diversity training on campus. Supporting dining hall workers. And unions. And women’s rights. Sexual assault. Fighting against Nazis. Emerson students love to get involved in our community, leaving a big ol’ stamp on the grass before we graduate. 

We have a reputation throughout the city: Hipsters. Thrifted clothes. Organic lattes with oat milk. Video camera in-hand. Sitting on the pulse of Boston. Overachiever. Full schedule of campus orgs and internships. Always high or smoking cigs on Boylston Street. Unapologetically queer. Secret rich people. Artsy in a way that not everyone understands. Sure, this is definitely not the case for everyone on campus, but I’ve been pointed out on the Common for holding a Canon camera with an oversized ripped jean jacket. It’s definitely a thing.

We’re tiny but mighty.

Emerson has top-rated programs in journalism, publishing, theatre, and film, with dozens of magazines and publications, as well as safe-space clubs for students of color and the LGBTQ+ community. We have a top-level Her Campus chapter and nationally ranked polling society. With a strong “Emerson Mafia” and comedic self-deprecation against the college itself, we’re all in this together. Many companies are even known to look for Emerson student applicants at internships because of our skilled programs and expected work ethic. Students have modeled for Vogue, had articles workshopped for the Chicago Tribune, and acted in Oscar-nominated films. It’s no wonder we have our own student-run award show, to honor the great talent and minds that occupy campus. 

Hopefully this highlighted some of the parts of Emerson you don’t get to see on a tour. 

Lilli is a Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Emerson. This is her second year as a member of Her Campus and second as a Campus Trendsetter. Lilli is a senior journalism major at Emerson College with minors in fiction and women, gender, and sexuality studies. She's a bubbly Aries who loves to keep a busy schedule, but she always leaves enough room for food, friends, and curling up to watch HGTV. Follow her on Instagram @lillircohen
Emerson contributor