The Class of 2014 will be here in a little over a week and with them comes freshman orientation. One of my fondest memories from the College were my first couple of weeks spent here in August 2007, and I have a couple of suggestions for things freshman ought to do to ensure that their Orientation is the most memorable it can be:
- Smile, a lot. You’ll be glad you did. Makes you more approachable.
- Read and learn from the Encyclopedia TWAMPtannica.
- Try to remember people’s names – getting first and last names often helps.
- Bond with your OA – they’ll be a primary guide over the next year.
- Get to know your RA.
- Hangout with your hall 24/7 and take an active interest in their lives; you’ll be living together for a whole year.
- Install your AC unit before you do a single other thing on campus.
- Make a fool of yourself at least once. It’s ok, we’re all awkward here and it creates memorable bonds.
- Think long and hard about what adjective you’re going to use to alliterate with your name if your OA makes you play that game…the sad truth is that the adjective is likely to stick with you for quite a bit of time.
- Wear deodorant. Seriously, just do it.
- Remain hydrated. August is hot and you’ll be sweating a lot.
- Reinvent yourself – if you’re going to do it, Orientation is the perfect time! It’s a clean slate.
- Stay up late talking to your new hallmates and friends. The lack of sleep will be worth it in the end.
- Enjoy Convocation. Take vivid mental pictures, you will carry them with you through your undergraduate career.
- Sign up for about 50 student organizations at the Student Activities fair – you can parse them later!
- Pledge do not lie, cheat, or steal. Our Honor Code is the oldest in the country at 231 years of age! Live it.
- Don’t lose your class button – you will want it as a senior, trust me.
- Say hi to everybody you pass – even if you don’t know them yet, these will be your closest friends in a matter of months!
- Learn your hall cheers.
- Thank your parents for everything they’ve ever done for you.
- Learn the Alma Mater (and I don’t just mean the first verse).
- Don’t correct yourself if you start to call W&M “home.”
- Remember that there is only one William & Mary, that you belong here, and that your relationship to this place will be for life.
- Don’t hate on your freshman dorm – embrace it with pride.
- Self-Determine the rules on your own hall with the help of your RA.
- Get excited for classes! (but really, these teachers will be the best you’ll ever have).
- Follow fife and drums down Duke of Gloucester street to our venerable old College.
- Get lots of things for free!
- Meet and get to know your faculty adviser.
- Go and “Meet the Greeks” just to see what the oldest Greek system in the United States is all about!
- S.H.O.W. up and help out our local community through service with the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship!
- Enjoy ice cream at the Alumni Association – even though you’re brand new to the College, you’re part of a rich 317 year old history. All alumni and members of the William and Mary family want to welcome you!
- Attend your first “screen on the green” and your first “fridays at five” in the days following the start of classes.
- But most importantly, let yourself have fun and get lost in the experience. William and Mary will be your home for the next four years and far beyond, you will meet some of the closest friends you will ever have along these brick pathways, your horizons will be expanded, and you will accomplish things you never thought possible.
As former College President Gene Nichol told the incoming class of 2009 at Opening Convocation in 2005:
“I know, with keen assurance, that this storied institution will make its mark on you. You will be doused in the waters. Your lives will be opened; your frameworks changed. We will expand your sense of the possible. But I charge you today to make your mark on the College as well. Etch your history on these ancient walls. This remarkable community of inquiry is now your own. Engage it. Enliven it. Press your hard won aspirations. Work your magic. Stake your claim.
It would be impossible – and contrary to the patent lessons of history – to assume that anything is beyond the reach of the graduates of William and Mary…Welcome to the realm of the Green and Gold.”
I look forward to meeting all of you as you come home for the first time in 8 days.
Welcome to the College of William and Mary. You have no idea the unforgettable adventure that awaits you.