Prefrosh Preview: A guide to New Student Orientation
We love Juliana Brint’s run-down of New Student Orientation so much that we’ve decided to republish it!
You don’t have to go to every NSO event, but try to attend a few. As you’ll quickly learn, events that are “required” in college aren’t mandatory in any sense of the word. If you need some time to unpack or shop for supplies, don’t worry about opting out of a few NSO programs. That said, NSO generally hosts some useful and entertaining events—and it’s not like there’s anything better to do during your first few days. Even the less-than-stellar events make for good conversation fodder.
Take your GOCard picture beforehand. The line for pictures will be wrapped around Darnall, and you’ll be sweaty and exhausted. You don’t want that vision of yourself plastered on your ID for the next four years.
Don’t worry if you don’t find a BFF the first few weeks. There’s lots of pressure to find your new college buddies right away, but don’t be too upset if it doesn’t immediately happen. Most of the people you end up hanging out with the first few weeks are totally random—either your OA group or your floormates or acquaintances of acquaintances—and there’s no guarantee you’ll have anything in common with them.
Sure, some people stick with their freshman floor friends for all four years, but many don’t. Give it a few weeks before you start stressing—most of the conversations you’ll be having your first few days will be really enthusiastic, but also really superficial.
Avoid the bookstore at all costs. During the first few days, it’s tempting to resort to the bookstore as a convenient source of textbooks and last minute dorm necessities. As we recommended weeks ago, resist that temptation. The bookstore’s prices are positively extortionary, and you’ll be dealing with epic lines throughout the start of the semester.
Unless you have an obsession with pristine textbooks, the best solution is to order your books used online. Check the bookstore’s website regularly to see if they’ve put up textbook lists yet, and then take those titles and head on over to Amazonor other online bookstores.
If you end up switching into a course at the last minute and ordering online won’t get you a book you need in time, try to borrow it from one of your new classmates. (Don’t forget to check if Lauinger Library has a copy.) Failing that, buy the first book on the syllabus from the bookstore and get the rest online.
Go to open houses and SAC fair—but do so prudently. Georgetown has lots of great student organizations just begging you to join them, and you should take advantage of that—to a certain extent. SAC holds an annual fair at the beginning of the year where clubs set up on Copley Lawn and try to get you to sign up for their listservs. If you’re legitimately interested, sign yourself up; if not, don’t let their cheerful spiels and free food sway you—your email inbox will thank you for your fortitude.
Don’t be an asshole to your parents. If your parents are dropping you off, you’re probably already plotting how to get them out of your hair as quickly as possible so you can enjoy the wonders of college social life. As tempting as it is to blow them off in favor of bonding with your newfound BFF, be nice. Just remember they’re only here for a couple of days and you really don’t want them stewing over any perceived slights from now until Thanksgiving Break.
Trust your instincts about classes and take advantage of add/drop period. It’s easy to be an apologist about lackluster classes since it can be a bit of a hassle to switch, but you really should trust your instincts. If you leave the first meeting dreading the rest of the semester, don’t be afraid to look for alternates. Add/drop period only lasts a week and a half, so you really have to act quickly and go with your gut.
You don’t have to pay floor funds. Your RA will do your best to convince you otherwise, but the fact is you’re not required to pay the floor funds they’ll be soliciting from you at the beginning of the year.
Buy dorm supplies locally. It’s a big hassle to schlep a dorm room’s worth of stuff down to D.C., so it’s generally a good idea to just wait until you’re here. If you’re worried about not being able to find anything in stock, a lot of stores will let you order online and designate in-store pick up.
You don’t have to get shitfaced your first night at Georgetown. Epic drunkenness aside, you don’t want to be standing in the interminable Convocation line while bidding farewell to your parents with a head-splitting hangover.
Hammer out rules with your roommate early on. The “roommate contract” may seem lame when your RA tells you about it, but go ahead and fill it out. As awesome as your roomie may seem on CHARMS and during the first few days, you’ll be shocked how quickly things can turn sour. That’s not to say they necessarily will, but it’s best to figure out your standards for cleaning, noise, hosting people, and sexiling early, before you find yourself in passive-aggressive territory.
You don’t have to read the assigned summer book or go to the lecture. There are lots of rumors that not writing the paper about the required book or not attending the lecture and discussion group will result in some terrible consequences down the line, such as getting a bad housing lottery number. The truth is Georgetown’s administration is nowhere near organized enough to pull off that kind of coordination.