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.

10 Comments on “Prefrosh Preview: A guide to New Student Orientation

  1. You don’t have to read the assigned summer book, but some of the group leaders/professors WILL make you feel like an asshole for not reading it. And some kids DO learn something! (whaaaat?!)

  2. If you didn’t read the book, @Alum, why would you show up to the seminar?

    Anyways, since there’s no Greek life here, a lot of social life comes from clubs. Heed their advice and don’t sign up for 86 clubs. Just find the ones that fit what you love and you’ll likely make a lot of friends and have great times that way. I didn’t make BFFs right away and did sweat it but once I got ensconced in clubs, I was a lot happier.

  3. also remember that while Georgetown might feel like a big place, the communities you’ll get involved in aren’t. So if you have a random major and are taking a language, make sure you don’t do anything to piss off the other 5 people at Georgetown who are in that major and also take that language. you will see them every day for the next 4 years.
    Have fun!

  4. If you don’t pay your floor funds you’re an asshole. It’s not fair to those who DO pay them, and they’re a good thing to have. Talk to your RA about what you want to do with them, they don’t have to go to some dumb event, it can be whatever. My freshman year, we bought a toaster for the common room (because you’re not allowed to have them in your room) and various cooking supplies. Don’t be a dick, it’s 20 bucks.

  5. Georgetown is home to a sizable subset of people who will, regardless of circumstance, try to make you feel like an asshole. Just remember that anyone who regularly uses guilt or shame as a weapon is, in fact, an asshole. So if a professor tries to make you feel stupid for not reading an arbitrarily chosen and ill-enforced book that you have no interest in, disregard it. You’ll have four years in college, possibly more in grad school, and 40+ years in the workplace, and you can’t let the forceful opinions of a handful of unduly assertive jerks make the difference.

    Case in point: COL. Not paying an extra $20 for things you don’t care about doesn’t make you a dick, especially when you’re already dropping $50K that year on the organization begging for the money. They wouldn’t have you pay the money at all if it weren’t an arrangement whereby some people were subsidizing the others; otherwise everyone could just pay for the things they go to. There’s no reason the people on that floor who were going to use a toaster couldn’t have banded together on their own and saved a backdoor handout from the rest. Public service is extremely important but it should go toward those who need it, not Georgetown students who feel entitled to appliances in New South.

    That said, do consider reading the book for its pure intellectual sake. If you can’t read a single book over the summer before heading to Georgetown, you are wasting your time at college. You don’t need to have a clear idea of what you want to do or spend every waking moment at college (in fact, you’re seriously screwing up if you do), but you can aspire to something more than getting drunk every night (which, believe, pays major dividends both immediately and later on) and STILL get drunk on a lot of nights.

    You’ll one day wish you were as erudite as you’re supposed to be when you graduate college. I often do.

  6. The reason I think it’s a dick move not to pay floor funds is because I honestly do think that, if well managed, they can really put a positive spin on the floor. For once, it’s money that you don’t have to jump through hoops to get to subsidize the activities of your choice. Not trying to shame, just trying to explain that for those students who DO pay their floor funds (either because they didn’t know they couldn’t, or because it would never occur to them to not contribute to a community fund which they have control over) it’s not fair.
    @Ho? YA! [clever name, I like it]
    We discussed use of floor funds at floor meetings wherein we decided as a group what to do with them. And trust me, there was no one who did not make use of the purchases. Of course, if you want to be completely independent and refuse to participate, it’s fine, but then I think you ought refrain from participating or using the fruits of the floor funds.

    I don’t see the point in telling new students NOT to pay floor funds. I think it would have made more sense to explain what their purpose is, and then to advise the student to act depending on how much they think they might get out of them.

    It’s less than three Wisey’s sandwiches and it gives your floor autonomy — I don’t see where the problem is.

  7. Ahhhh, have just reread article. Thought it said “don’t pay floor funds”. My bad. Sorry!

  8. I think the parents line is very important, I think this a great list that will be perfect for any incoming freshman who reads the voice blog.

  9. RA confession: We feel like assholes for badgering you for floorfunds when we know they’re not mandatory, but please please PLEASE don’t be rude to your RAs about it (or other things generally, unless we’re actually being douches).
    We are answerable to others but there’s a fine line between doing our job and actually being douchey (and if you’re RA is douchey, then avoid him/her at all costs :p).

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