1. Participate in orientation activities
New student orientation can sometimes feel like an intense session of summer camp. I spent my first days at William & Mary following our neon clad orientation aides to different seminars, meetings, and icebreaker activities. Although this crash-course in college life was a little overwhelming, I actually enjoyed orientation. I got to know my hall mates, who are now some of my best friends, and I made a lot of great memories. (If you ever spend more than 5 minutes talking to my roommate or me about orientation, you will definitely hear the story of how we spent an evening at Lake Matoaka blasting songs from Moulin Rouge! with a group of students we had just met at Late Night at the Rec!)
My advice for getting the most out of orientation is to fully participate in orientation activities! This is the best time to bond with your dorm and to meet new people from other halls. It’s also a good way to familiarize yourself with the campus, college policies, and different resources available to you at W&M. Let’s be honest, I know you’ll probably get tired of the more practical (and more boring) aspects of orientation, but if you go in with a good attitude, you’ll definitely leave with some great memories.
2. Go to the activities fair
Tons of student organizations set up booths at the activities fair during the first week of classes. Check out any and everything that piques your interest! Don’t feel restricted to just sticking with activities you did in high school; branch out and try something new! While I got involved in club volleyball because I loved playing in high school, I also explored a lot of other groups, like The Campus Kitchen at William & Mary, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and Circle K International. Over the next four years, you’ll have plenty of time to narrow down your activities and figure out where you want to dedicate your time. I didn’t stay involved with every organization that I signed up for at the activities fair, but it was still a great way to try new things and meet new people.
3. Get to know your roommate/hall mates
Make sure you spend time getting to know your roommate and hall mates during your first week on campus! I met some of my closest friends in my freshman dorm; we’re already planning reunions in our post-grad life! Even if you don’t end up becoming BFFs with the people in your dorm, you’re going to be living with them for the next year, so it’s important that you respect one another and can get along.
My hall mates and I posing with our OAs before Convocation in 2014!
4. Don’t freak out over class registration
Registration can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! You will get classes, even if it seems like every class you want is already full! While they may not be your top choices, you’re not going to be left with an empty schedule. You also have 3 1/2 years left to meet your requirements, so don’t feel like you need to fulfill them all during the first semester of your freshman year. Finally, if there’s a class you’re really interested in, don’t be afraid to email the professor to ask about getting an override or being placed on a wait-list. The worst they can say is no, and the best case scenario is that you get the class.
5. Ask for advice!
My last tip for incoming freshmen is to never be afraid to ask for help and advice! During your freshman year, you have a whole support system of people who are here to help you succeed. These people, among many others, include your orientation aides, resident assistants (RAs), pre-major advisors, professors, and Peer Advisors. Take advantage of these resources for any questions or issues you may have during your college transition.
You may already be familiar with the phrase “one tribe one family,” and if you’re not, you soon will be. William & Mary students support and look out for one another. The first year of college (actually, all four years of college!) can be difficult. Never hesitate to reach out to fellow members of the W&M community if you’re struggling; we’re here for you, and we’ve got your back.