First off, let me begin with earnest congratulations to all high school seniors. From extracurriculars to applications to tests on tests on tests, you did it! Be proud of your accomplishments—but more importantly, be proud of your willpower and the work you put in the first place, regardless of the rewards you may have reaped at the end.
That being said, many of you are on the way to attend college. Whether you are feeling exuberantly excited or hand-numbingly anxious, here are some tips to help you conquer freshmen orientation which lies ahead of you, in order to make sure you don’t end up becoming THAT guy or girl.
1. The Promising Pre-Orientation
Believe it or not, your freshmen orientation begins as soon as you make your college decision. It begins officially once you join the splendor that is your class Facebook group. It will be filled with new faces like you, along with older students as well as sometimes professors and deans.
Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can. Ask questions that you can’t find the answers to on your school’s website. Ask questions about your classmates that are simultaneously generic yet interesting. Get to know who you’ll be surrounding yourselves with the next four or more years. At the same time, however, don’t ask questions that can easily be researched yourself. And more importantly, don’t ask questions or make posts that are just generally obnoxious and annoying. Your Facebook group is NOT the place to make a reputation for yourself. I’ve seen it happen. It’s ugly. It’s a little pathetic too. And many of the students can be extremely passive aggressive—sometimes outright mean.
Now, here are some outlandishly humble posts from the Class of 2017 pages of different universities that should warn you how not to behave:
2. The Overly Overzealous Orientation
“Go out there and do it. It’s your world. It’s your time. You’re all so pretty. And cute, too.” –Maya Angelou, Duke Class of 2017 Convocation.
This will literally be the most hectic moment of your freshmen year at college until finals week.
Go to orientation events. This is how you meet people, and this is probably where you will get to know those who will inhabit your immediate surroundings (aka dormmates). This is also a great opportunity to establish connections with upperclassmen orientation leaders who will know all the ins and outs of your school.
Go to club open houses. This is where you can participate in what you were always passionate about, and discover further hidden passions that you never even knew about. Also another great opportunity to get to meet new people and establish connections.
Go to parties. This is where you learn what the bustling social scene at your school is like. Even if you don’t like parties, make sure you at least check it out to see what all the commotion is about. As a socially awkward introvert, going out to parties (and the events as well) took a lot of mental energy, but in the end, it was completely worth it.
Now, realize that it’s basic fact that you are going to be bombarded with a million new faces and names, and that you’re going to forget most, if not all of them. And that’s okay! It’s not offensive to not remember a certain individual’s name, and you certainly should not be personally offended if someone forgets yours.
Lastly, MAKE SURE you take full advantage of ALL the free food events. Trust me on this, okay?
3. The All-Too-Privy Post-Orientation
Once you get finally settled to your new life at college, this is when the awkwardness settles in. What was once socially acceptable to begin random conversations with strangers is suddenly no longer as acceptable (besides, asking people the same tiring questions of their hometown and intended major gets tiring after a while). You will find yourself debating whether you should say hi to that girl who was in your orientation group and you sort of had a conversation with. And to be honest, as a socially awkward introvert who just finished his first year of college, I can’t give you any solid advice. Just be yourself or something, I guess.
With that said, however, realize that college is going to be the place where you meet the most interesting people of your lives. Some will be brilliant individuals who are simply better than you in every way possible. Some will have been born from utmost privilege who have had the opportunity to see the world. Some will have interests that don’t sit well with the rest of society. Some will believe in things that fundamentally offend you as a human being. But hey, that’s all part of the college experience.
I truly hope these tips have been useful. You are now well on your way to blooming into the beautiful social butterfly that you were always destined to be!
Enjoy your summer!