Dec. 26, 2014

A fresh start

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August 20, 2014

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Congratulations, class of 2018! The College of William and Mary welcomes you with open arms. You’re likely to be overwhelmed these next few days, but don’t fret — The Flat Hat is here for you with some useful advice and reminders to help you navigate not just orientation, but your next four years as well.

Make the most of orientation. You only get one. Get ready to meet lots of really interesting, passionate and weird people. Don’t be afraid to talk to them; you could potentially become life-long friends with some.

For all of you introverts, you may find solitude elusive during orientation, but you are entitled to it. The hyper-social atmosphere of orientation may feel disorienting, and that’s okay. You are not alone.

Maintain an open mind. Don’t rush to quick judgments of people. Many of them are nervous and trying to put their best foot forward (or at least somewhere they won’t trip on it). This leads some people to present abnormal, awkward versions of themselves. Be kind to them.

Get to know your orientation aides. They are excited to show you all that the College has to offer and will dedicate a considerable amount of time to helping you find your footing.

Once you’ve settled in, get to know your roommate. Communication is the most important and often most difficult aspect of a roommate relationship. When your RA passes out roommate contracts, fill them out. Make rules. Learn how to compromise and figure out what you absolutely cannot compromise on. Doing this will make living together easier and maybe even help you understand yourself better.

Build trust among your hallmates. Hang out in the lounge and talk to them. You never know who will become your closest friends, and you will never have a hall as tight knit or as dedicated to community after your freshman year.

Make yourself known to your professors. They are there for you. That means raising your hand in class and going to office hours. It will be a boon to your grades and help you build valuable relationships.

Be responsible. If you choose to drink at a party, don’t put your drink down, and be cognizant of how much you’re drinking and what it is you’re drinking. You don’t want to end up regretting it. As you will repeatedly hear throughout orientation, make Tribe choices.

Don’t worry if you haven’t found your niche after a few weeks. It takes time — possibly months, even a year or two. This could include a club or organization or a few really close friends. You may have to branch out beyond your hall and explore. Go to the student activities fair. Play an intramural sport. Go to AMP events. Go on a service trip. Don’t sweat it if you haven’t found your place yet, and if it’s giving you anxiety or depression, visit the counseling center. There is no shame in doing so.

Good luck, and have a fantastic year.

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