1.) Convocation, Induction Ceremony, or Week of Welcome
Convocation, or Induction Ceremony is a ceremony in which all the freshman of a college are “inducted” into the college. If your college has this activity, it is usually within the first week of moving in, or classes. Every college has a different tradition- and the events can even change from year to year. What is typically standard though, is the “freshman walk”. Often lead by student leaders, or members of Student Government, the freshman walk starts on campus and goes to the ceremony location- maybe the gym or lecture hall. There will be speakers from a few members of the board, the President of the college, and perhaps the Student Government President.
For my convocation, we had the freshman walk (400 of us were given T-shirts to commemorate and unify it) , the speakers, then a beautiful rendition of our school’s anthem. Afterwards, we held a candlelight vigil in the garden. It really helped me feel connected with my student body and it truly marked the start of college. It was then followed by a week of activities such as a bonfire with s’mores, a movie viewing, dance party and free bowling passes. My sophomore year, upperclassmen were asked to not attend, but I was able to because of my position in Student Government. The ceremony was largely the same, and afterwards was a bar-be-que and club fair, followed by the week of activities which included: a trip to the Paw Sox game, a movie in the lecture hall (The Hangover Part III), bingo games (with expensive prizes), speed friending events, trips to the first away football game, as well as trips to New York and Providence (we’re near Boston). As freshman, often these events are targeted FOR YOU to get you involved with the upperclassmen, and help you feel more welcomed!
2.) Join, or Make a Club/ Sports Team
Chances are, you looked at the club list when you applied to your college. If you didn’t find one you liked, make one! Clubs can be an integral part of the college experience because it’s linking you with people with at least one shared interest. Often as a freshman your first friends may not be ones from high school- but rather people you meet at your club or sports team. It can link you to people from all walks of the campus and broaden your horizons a bit. (Not to mention it looks good on resumes!)
3.) Go on a Trip!
Go somewhere. College is not the 13th grade. And while you may still answer to your parents because they may still hold the checkbook, you also have to remember that chances are, you’re already 18. Go somewhere. Often the campus activities section of your college will plan trips to places (such as the mall or movies if its too far, or even major cities like I mentioned above). If you don’t want to drive or can’t or have no friends with a car (which is okay!) use those. It’ll get you off campus, get you a change of scenery and it’ll relax you more than you know. If you can drive, go somewhere- and I don’t mean home on the weekends. Go to the big city, or to the country and just do a “me” activity or a “me and friends activity”. At my college there are shuttles to Wal-Mart every Wednesday, discounted movie tickets for sale 5 days a week, and trips to the movies at least once or twice a month ON TOP of the trips to Major-League baseball team games, big cities in the area, and trips to restaurants.
4.) Go to Outside Lectures- There are Fun Ones!
Chances are, you all ready have to go to some of these to get points in class. If you don’t, lucky you. Outside lectures will enrich your learning experience in whatever the lecture is on. For instance, I am an Interactive Media:Game Design major. So, I went to the following lectures: “Networking in the Industry”, “Journalism and Gaming”, “Microsoft NERDTalk: Trends in the Industry”. Others I went to included: “One White Face by Hilary Corna”, which was a lecture on how a college graduate went to Singapore to work for a company, “Lean In: A Lecture on Women in Leadership by COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg”, and “Civility in Action by Huffington Post blogger Tracianna Graves”.
5.) Start Networking and Making Friends
When I say “Start Networking” I don’t mean it’s the end of the world if you don’t. Forms of networking include talking to upperclassmen, especially seniors and sophomores. Seniors because they’re going into job world now and you can watch their process, and sophomores because not only were they in your shoes last year, but they can watch you from freshman to junior year, see your growth, and recommend you later. Networking doesn’t mean you go into a relationship with the intent of only using them for that- but, make them friends. Go to speed-friending events (or, pitch it to your Campus Activities department/board), residence hall or dormitory meetings. Invite everyone to dinner at a certain time. I challenge you to make one quality friend within your first two weeks of college. As an Interactive Media: Game Design major in Worcester, I’m strongly encouraged to go to an event called “Boston Post-Mortem” which is a networking event where Game Students and industry professionals meet each other and discuss the topic we’re all interested in.
6.) Hang out at other colleges (if you can)
The city of Worcester is a college town, with 36,000 college students, 10 colleges and universities and more in the neighboring areas. Going to another school to hang out doesn’t mean you’re forfeiting your school pride, but, you are seeing what resources they have. What’s neat about Worcester is we have a Consortium Agreement, where as a student in one school you have access to facilities (such as the library, gym and a few others), certain activities (school permitting) and other students to hang out with. Expand your bubble elsewhere if you can, get a breath of fresh air, meet people from other places.
7.) See What’s Around Town
When your parents or friends finish helping you move in and leave, take in a big breath of fresh air. You’re at college now, and there’s going to be an unexpected feeling of huge freedom. Even if your town isn’t a “college town”, there are likely entertainment opportunities within walking or short drives/bus rides from the campus. For my new student orientation, my college introduced us to a local yogurt shop titled “Woo Berry” and it’s one of the hottest hang out spots nearby. There are nightclubs with 18+ nights you can attend, concerts (of many genres), tournaments of many types, shops, movies and movie theaters. “But Kerry, I’m a poor freshman with no money.” That’s okay too. Not only is your campus going to have free or cheap events, but, cities have cheap events too. Go to the city website, look at the events calendar. They will list when an event is free.
8.) Make or Meet a Mentor
At our college, each freshman is assigned a First Year Course Assistant (FYCA) which will assist an instructor in a First Year Experience class. Often this class is required at other colleges too. The FYCA is a student leader on campus who if not everything- knows much about what’s going on and how to find information. They can also introduce you to more upperclassmen friends, or connect you with other freshman they think you’re a good fit with. They are the bridge between you and the faculty, and the college. If your college doesn’t have that sort of program, find an upperclassmen to mentor you. Eat lunch or dinner with them, invite them to a movie or a club. They will understand your frustrations, help you correct them or at least lead you in the correct direction to fix it.
9.) Volunteer Locally
“Ugh Kerry, I don’t want to volunteer, that sounds so boring.”
To that, I say, it’s only boring if you make it be. I don’t volunteer often. Often I don’t have the time. But volunteering doesn’t have to be weeks long commitment. Also, find a cause you care about. Chances are there are everything from soup kitchens, food banks, churches, boys and girls clubs to secret Santa opportunities and much more. Challenge your campus to open relations with a group that needs volunteers if it doesn’t all ready. Not only will it build your relations with the faculty and staff at the school. As a sophomore at my college, I’ve gone to the local girl’s club to volunteer with homework help, helped at a foodbank, cleaned up the park, been a secret Santa, and shoveled snow of cars and driveways for little old ladies who lived near by ( I didn’t tell them I was going to do it either! ).
Studies show that the more gratitude you show, the happier a person you will be (Emmons). Not only are you going to gain a new perspective on life from someone else in need, but you’re going to be able to show the gratitude for the things you have. If you pick something you enjoy, do it because you want to you’re really going to touch someone else’s life. When I woke up the morning after I dug the neighbor’s cars out, I saw them walk outside- ready to do it themselves- and stop. The look of happiness that they didn’t have to do it themselves was something I can’t describe. Often they’d look around to see if they could see the person who did it, but in the end, I know I brightened their day a little bit. When I bought a toy for a child who wasn’t going to have any presents for Christmas, I know in my heart that I made his morning. And it’s a wonderful feeling.
10.) Do Many Things For the Memories
I’ll admit, I struggled with this article. It wasn’t that I wasn’t involved my freshman year, or that I didn’t know or go to the events. It was the fact of putting them into a Top 10 List. Which is why I’m not giving any of them importance from number 1 to number 10. I’m writing for a variety of people who have different interests than me, different campus lives, and different social needs. But the universal thing I have to say is: Make a Memory.
You’re not going to remember the times you spent in class, even if it was an awesome class like “The Psychology of Zombies” or “History of Game Development.” You’re going to be pressured into things that you may not want to do. Your peers will make you want to pull your hair out sometimes. There will be drama, homesickness, actual sickness, and a slew of other ailments and bad things to cross your path.
The good news is, you won’t remember those either.
What you will remember will be that night you went to the nightclub with your friends, the movie night you went to at the lecture hall, the residence hall or dorm-wide Thanksgiving dinner, the video game nights with your friends, the ugly sweater party your teammates threw, the winter and spring carnivals you attended, and the surprise birthday party you put on for someone else or someone put on for you. You will remember the study group you joined to pass the class that you absolutely could not focus in, the volunteer day you spent- or even the secret santa gift, the football or other sports team game you went to, the club you joined, and the activities you planned or attended with your Campus Activities department.
You will remember the warm feelings and the smiles.
So I challenge you, go out twice a month at least and make a memory you will look on with warm feelings.
Make a memory
Emmons, Robert. “New Science of Gratitue.” Gratitude Power. University of California: Davis. Web. 6 Dec 2013. <http://gratitudepower.net/science.htm>.