Hi, I’m Drew

Andrew Baumgartner

Ask a Fifth-year
There are a lot of fifth-year seniors on this campus. Between the rigorous courses and the old Lawrentian habit of generally overdoing it, it’s a wonder anyone finishes in four years at all. Still, I cannot help but feel a little out of place, which is precisely the kind of shared adversity that helps me relate to freshmen, the group for whom this column is intended.
It is striking how much the fifth year is like freshmen year in reverse: We fifth-years exist on the fringes of collegedom, missing the friends we’ve been close to over the past four years, and spending our days anxiously looking down the barrel of a huge change in lifestyle.
This thought has given me fresh eyes on much of college life — everything old is new again, an outlook only slightly exaggerated by all the actual new stuff on campus — and that perspective offers me the ability to relate to freshmen in a way I have not been able to — or cared to — since I was a freshmen.
The good news is, that perspective comes with years of experience, something your freshmen friends — relatable though they may be — are woefully lacking. That is not to say that my advice is better than theirs, it is simply tempered with wistful hindsight.
I do not hold any illusions about preventing freshmen from making the same mistakes I made. I personally always disregarded advice as for other people. However, I do hope I can offer assurances and knowhow for getting through them. In that way, my perspective is particularly useful; as a double-degree student, I have likely made twice the mistakes of a normal Lawrentian: in both the College and Conservatory.
All of this appealing to freshmen makes it sound like I do not intend on advising anyone else — this couldn’t be further from the truth. Freshmen are simply the least weary of bald-faced appellations. Really, anyone who thinks they have a pressing, insightful, or funny question, I would love to hear it.
Still, it is hard not to have a special place in my heart for this year’s freshmen. It is quite what I imagine holding a baby must be like for a very old man: so much wisdom to impart in so little time — do not let my talk of “wisdom” fool you — most of my accrued knowledge revolves around where to find the best drinking fountains on campus — Plantz first floor hallway, I’m looking at you.
I suppose part of the connection I feel for this year’s freshmen comes from at least a small desire to live vicariously through them. If I could, I would go back and live these past four years again — if that is not the best endorsement of my experience I do not know what is — and doing so through your questions is about as close as I can get.
I hope the fact that I will enjoy giving advice does not confuse what I am offering any question contributors; I am m sure by now you have all discovered how cool it is to complain about things, but unlike your friends, I am actually interested to hear your problems. I can tell you from experience that that is pretty valuable.
So please, send me your questions. No subject is taboo, no question too stupid, but I do need questions. Otherwise, I’ll have to write another column without a prompt, and nobody wants that.
Send your questions to Drew at baumgara@lawrence.edu.