As summer comes to an end, first-year college students around America will be pumped through the exciting yet cringe-inducing process of college orientation. The event somehow walks the line between purgatory and platonic speed dating. Students spend excruciating hours sitting down for awkward seminars and icebreaker sessions. The three questions: “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from?” and “Where are you living?” will be repeated millions of times until responses start sounding like they’re coming out of Siri. For some, orientation means newfound independence; for others, it is the gift of a blank canvas and a chance to start over. However, all feel the constant pressure to give off the right first impression to the right people.
Despite the superficial nature of the first days on campus, freshman orientation shouldn’t be something you float through. This is the only time in college where everyone is in the same social boat; everyone is looking for friends. The shared experience makes it easy to meet loads of people from different backgrounds and possibly make connections to last the next four years and beyond.
To get the most out of orientation, I recommend avoiding the following seven mentalities:
1. “This is so stupid.”
You’ve had nightmares based on posts on the accepted students Facebook page and now believe everyone is dorky, snobbish, and/or overexcited to a level that would make even Michael Scott cringe. You’re the only normal one here. Maybe it’s best to skip orientation altogether and lay low for a while.
Please. Not everyone will be straight outta Cringefest 2015. If you shut yourself out of orientation, you will miss opportunities to both find friends and learn how to navigate the complicated and often confusing Brown system. Although some events wont hurt to skip [Ed. Not that we’re condoning this], make sure you at least go to convocation, and learn the names of everyone on your floor.
2. “No parents! No rules!”
You’re free from the parents!!! Now is your time to GET WASTED!
People are subject to many different parenting styles. Some have enjoyed relative freedom throughout high school while others have spent the lion’s share of their teenage years locked inside SAT study centers. For many, orientation is a time to do everything your parents told you not to do—namely, drink alcohol. This mentality is dangerous and can lead to injury, death or even worse—lasting embarrassment.
If you know your limits, go slow. If you don’t, go slower or don’t go at all. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in college drinks—in fact, half of college freshman don’t. You have the whole rest of your life to
find out how many it takes to black out experiment with drinking. Orientation is a time to meet people, not throw up all over them.
3. “I’m not as smart/talented/sociable as these people.”
“What if everyone finds out that I’m a fraud?”
You can waste lifetimes comparing yourself to others. During orientation, focus on the experience of meeting others rather than sizing them up. Understand that most people feel like they’re faking it until they make it. It doesn’t stop after college.
4. “I don’t want to seem desperate.”
You want to be social but you don’t want other people to think you’re overly needy. It’s probably best to play it cool and wait for people to invite you to hang out.
Orientation is one of the few times that you can invite anyone out to lunch and get phone numbers without even a second look. Everyone is looking for friends. If you meet someone you would like to know better, invite them to your next meal. They’ll be happy to avoid the endless looking-but-not-finding-a-familiar-face Ratty circling routine. And if they aren’t they are probably just
a dick shy.
5. “It’s not college unless I hookup with someone!”
Whether you binged-watched a couple of seasons of Blue Mountain State or are looking to rebound from a recent breakup, you know that college is the prime environment for hookups. It’s time to turn your game up to 11.
There’s nothing wrong with a college orientation hookup, but when it becomes your main goal, you will miss out on experiences and friendships that can make or break your first semester. On that same note, a fling over the first days or weeks of the semester will leave you a lot less space to figure out how to make the most of your time and forge relationships with all the awesome people around you.
6. Better stick with the clique.
You’ve met your people. They’re awesome—all Republicans from Long Island that love Super Smash Bros, like you. You feel that it’s best to only hang out with one another from now on so you don’t look like a loner.
The people you are first drawn to will reflect where you come from. It’s natural. However the people you connect with first are almost never who you become friends with down the road. Remember where you come from and everyone who has helped get you here, but don’t box yourself in. Take advantage of where you are and interact with people not found at your high school. It’s boring to have friends exactly like you.
7. Freshman year will be the best time of my life.
You’ve seen it in the movies and your friends’ Snapchat stories. College is D-muthafukin’-OPE. If you’re not on cloud nine, you’re probably doing something horribly wrong.
Orientation and the first semester of college will not be the best time of your life. It’s shitty to start over, rebuild connections, and adjust to a completely new environment. This semester will be an exhausting mental and emotional test. There will be fun, but don’t expect the never-ending cascade of new best friends, crazy experiences, and general good vibes that freshman fall is made out to be. Those all come sophomore year. I think.