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College Freshman (a.k.a Uber Frosh) is an image macro series featuring a college student with headphones, a University New Hampshire hoodie and a mobile phone. Portrayed as a hybrid of Scumbag Steve and Socially Awkward Penguin, the captions usually highlight the all-too-familiar cliches found in campus social scenes and student life during college years.
The photograph of the student has been used as a generic stock image for various blog posts and advertisements, with articles like “Why Every College Freshman Should Start a Roth IRA” and “Focusing on Others Can Decrease Freshman Year Anxiety” posted via Jacobs Financial Group and Mental Health News in January and June 2010 respectively.
The earliest known instance of the College Freshman image macro was shared on Reddit on July 24th, 2011, with a caption poking fun at college sport Ultimate Frisbee:
While the generic label “College Freshman” appears to be the prevalent name associated with the macro series, it has been also dubbed “Uber Frosh,” a colloquial adjective meaning “freshman-like” according to the Urban Dictionary definition submitted in September 2008:
To be similar in manner to a freshman, regardless of age; freshman-like.
On July 27th, 2011, a compilations of College Freshmen images were posted to BuzzFeed, Funny or Die and UpRoxx, and a thread was posted to the Body Building forums with several embedded derivatives of the series. The following day, several derivatives were posted to a thread in the forums for the gaming site IGN and a compilation was posted to the site Acid Cow. The series has since spread across Tumblr, Memebase and FunnyJunk.
On July 26th, 2011, the student modeling in the photo was identified as Griffin Kiritsy, who acknowledged his newfound fame on his personal blog and provided the background story behind the picture.
The story behind the picture is the worst part though. I did this interview over the phone and I thought that was the end of it, but a few weeks later the guy who set me up with the interview called and said a photographer was coming to take my picture. “No big deal” I told this guy, “I can pose for a few snapshots.” Little did I know that the fucking Picasso of photos was coming to frame me for this shot, and I ended up on Thompson Hall lawn in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. For those of you who aren’t UNH-ers, it’s like walking in the middle of Main Street during rush hour. And I was there while he took 137,000 photos. Talk about committing social suicide as a first semester freshman. Fuck me.
The “Sudden Death” Motif
One of the earliest Quickmeme submissions that referenced College Freshman’s death was posted to Quickmeme in July of 2011 with the caption “Dies / during frat hazing.” On August 15th, another derivative was submitted to Quickmeme with the caption “Goes to party / dies” and was subsequently posted to Reddit the same day receiving over 6,700 up votes within 4 months.
This sparked a trend in the series where the bottom caption of the image macro would always be “dies”, no matter how innocuous the preceding caption, and it even branched out to include other types of freshman including hipsters, fish and praying mantises. In 2012, the “sudden death” trope became associated with another advice animal character Bad Luck Brian.
Spin-Off: Senior Freshman
Shortly after the launch of the image macro series on Quickmeme, a spin-off series known as Senior College Freshman also emerged on the site, centered around a picture of a senior citizen student looking studious in a classroom setting:
Jacobs Financial Group – Why Every College Freshman Should Start a Roth IRA
Mental Health News – Focusing on Others Can Decrease Freshman Year Anxiety
Funny or Die – The 16 Funniest Examples of The College Freshman Meme