The Power of Customization

On my very first day as an undergraduate at New York University, I attended the orientation session for incoming freshmen in a state of suspended animation. I had left behind the camaraderie and the cinder-block walls of a New York City public high school, and now, alone and apart from my close friends of four years, I entered the marble halls of NYU’s Gould Memorial Chapel. I was a solitary speck in a sea of strangers, all of us intimidated by our imposing surroundings and further humbled by our requisite freshmen headdress: bright violet beanies.

My awe was heightened when a procession of austere deans and professors, clad in black academic gowns, entered and took their seats on the stage, looking down at ...

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