The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Op-ed: Remember moderate opinions exist but are often concealed online

Emma Liu

After spending many hours grinding through my work, there’s nothing I find more refreshing than opening up my laptop and scrolling through Reddit in the evening. My 2022 Reddit Recap affirmed that I spent the most time scrolling through the Northeastern subreddit, which makes sense considering how much I use it to navigate my academic journey. 

Besides all the sh*t posts and yet another entertaining complaint about finding rats in an apartment, I take advantage of the fact that many Northeastern students go on Reddit to describe their experiences there. Hence, when building my schedule or figuring out which professors best align with how I learn, I read through subreddit posts meticulously. 

Even though I use Reddit to, supposedly, relieve my stress about the unknowns of my college career, I have come to a point where I got so caught up in the opinions of other students about various classes that I lost my sense of identity and confidence about the path I could pursue in college. I let my potential be defined by the experiences of people on a social media platform.

Particularly, when I was stressed about which major I wanted to pursue after deciding that a path toward the medical field would be too stressful, I decided to browse through Reddit to learn about people’s experiences with other majors at Northeastern. If you’re an avid visitor of the Northeastern subreddit, you would know that there are countless posts about people’s frustrations with Northeastern’s computer science classes. The idea of spending at least 10 hours of work on classes with unsupportive professors, combined with the fact that computer science did not come naturally to me in high school, made me immediately dismiss the major as an option.

I didn’t even bother to talk to people in real life about their experiences with the major, let alone discuss the major with an academic advisor from Khoury College of Computer Sciences. I had let the fear I felt from seeing many people complain about Fundamentals of Computer Science 1, or Fundies, on Reddit prevent me from potentially pursuing the field. In high school, there was no subreddit to prevent me from taking four AP classes during my senior year. I had a slight glimmer of confidence to get me through that pursuit.

Looking back at my initial doubts about Fundies, I realize I should’ve been more open toward my friend from another school who affirmed I would be fine, considering my strong work ethic. I consulted with my friend, a computer science and behavioral neuroscience major, over the summer about what she thought about the Fundies posts on Reddit, and talking to her just reaffirmed the fact that people tend to only post online only if they have strong opinions

It seems that people tend to post on Reddit, and even TRACE, another online resource I spend too much time stressing over, if they have extremely positive or (more likely) extremely negative experiences with a class or professor. Reddit and TRACE are double-edged swords. On one hand, they are accessible resources on which to gather up-to-date information about classes I’m interested in from a large pool of students. On the other hand, the opinions contained in those resources are biased and seem to often come out of spitefulness.

As a data science and psychology combined major, I remember feeling distraught when I learned I had to take Discrete Structures. Discrete is another computer science class that gets complained about on Reddit. I mentally prepared myself to receive a bad grade in the class but found that I was able to be much more successful in the class than expected. I definitely do not think that Discrete is an easy class. Still, I found it manageable if you’re willing to review the lecture videos as needed, go to office hours as early and as much as needed, attend recitations and generally just work hard and responsibly. 

After completing Discrete, I truly started to contemplate what my life would have been like if I had chosen to become a computer science major instead. I adore data science, but sometimes I do wonder what it would have been like if I had been a computer science and music technology combined major instead. 

Northeastern’s Reddit community does have its empowering moments. About a month ago, a Northeastern student posted alleging the school had commented out code that would have enabled students to automatically donate their leftover meal swipes for a week. I also often see posts about people expressing mental health concerns that receive heartwarming and reassuring comments. And the infinite comedic posts complaining about the quality of Snell’s study environment always release any tensions I feel after a rough workday.

Social media sites such as Reddit can be fun and even uplifting, but it’s important to establish boundaries with them and not let them control the trajectory of your life. 

Even though I’m fortunate enough to be majoring in a field I can see myself enjoying in the future, I worry for other people who have the potential to excel at computer science, or other fields with a reputation for being difficult at Northeastern, but end up letting biased online opinions deteriorate their confidence. 

Reddit and TRACE are accessible resources to gauge the difficulty of a class, but just because an overwhelming amount of students complain about a class does not mean you won’t turn out fine. Northeastern is a school that encourages students to engage in exploratory learning, and I don’t wish for people’s journeys in this school to be tailored by what they have seen on the internet by other students. Talk to your friends, advisors and other in-person resources if you’re worried about what kind of path you want to pursue at this school. Once you’ve looked at a post, after you’ve read it, try not to dwell on it.

Jethro R. Lee is a third-year data science and psychology combined major. He can be reached at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Emma Liu
Emma Liu, Deputy Design Editor
Emma Liu is a second-year behavioral neuroscience and design major. She is currently working as the deputy design editor for The News. Originally from Philadelphia, Emma loves to collect sonny angels, volunteer at local orgs and find good food in her free time.
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