To the dear class of 2023,
Welcome to the swamp! In two weeks, you will arrive hot, sweaty and ready to unpack your things in a slightly-too-small dorm room. You will soon meet the joys of Sodexo, and you’ll learn what exactly a “Wawa Water” is. Your elders will recount the legends of the Jefferson Squirrel, and you might even master the art of eating paper. You will learn about both triathlons and maybe participate in our newest phallic phenomenon. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll attempt posting your first Swampy Meme. Woah.
Your first week at school will be filled with highs, lows and many, many in-the-middles. Accept the fact that you will be exhausted. For the first about two and a half days, you literally will not catch a break. Orientation throws so much information at you that the start of classes will be a relief.
It will be tempting to be an edgy edgelord and act like “This is all stupid, I’m an adult, and this is so dumb, dumb orientation for dumb dumb doo-doo babies.” While it’s easy to be too cool for school, this is your introduction to the College of William and Mary, and while orientation is intense, it is also still supposed to be fun. You don’t have to be the super-serious high schooler fighting to get into college. You’ve made it — so it’s okay to celebrate.
It is in my humble opinion that orientation is actually a good thing. As editor-in-chief of the Botetourt Squat, my opinion is correct and should be treated as law. What is the Squat, you say? Ask your orientation aides.
Speaking of OAs, I’ve seen plenty of people treat OAs like they are untouchable gods for whom we shall not interact with after orientation is over, or authoritarian figures for whom we must usurp. I’ll let you in on a little secret: the OAs are people. If you have a question about clubs, student life, academic building locations or even the best cheap eats around Williamsburg, these are your people. The first weeks of school you will have questions that you might not feel comfortable asking your RA. OAs got you, and it’s nice to know someone older on campus.
My OAs had my back since day one. They’re the ones coming to my concerts. They’re the ones gassing up my memes. When I had food poisoning from Oishii, they brought me saltines and Pedialyte.
I will impart some advice that I wish someone gave me during my orientation. It’s alright if you don’t get into every club, every play, every team, every music group. You’ll live. Don’t join everything. The moment clubs go from fun to frustrating, that’s an issue — quality over quantity, dude. I hate to break it to you, but your AP credits don’t really… do anything. Unless you’re trying to graduate early or get out of some intro-level courses, they’re pretty much just filler. You’re not really an academic junior. Whoops.
Students here have a bad tendency of making everything a competition. Nobody cares if you studied the most, got the least amount of sleep, drink the least amount of water, or had three more mental breakdowns than the rest of us. If you’re making yourself suffer to win at suffering… don’t do that.
Don’t try to become a big name on campus, or as they’re known here, BNOCs. Consciously trying to raise your social status doesn’t work like that. BNOC-ness will be thrust upon you. Also, being a BNOC does not matter and honestly, it’s pretty weird to have strangers feel a sense of hyper-familiarity and even comradery just because you’re a BNOC. It makes group projects awkward. Not that I know anything about that…
You’re a freshman, but don’t let people treat you like fresh meat. See what I did there? Things that mattered so, so much during high school might not anymore. It’s okay if you fall out of touch with high school friends. You might become friends with someone from your hometown you didn’t know before. I have done both. If there’s someone you don’t want to see, you probably won’t. Or maybe you’ll see them every day, but it doesn’t matter because you are you and they are them. As long as you keep doing your thing, everything’s fine. If they make things an issue, that’s on them. College is like that.
Lastly, if you need help, get it. There is everything from tutors to counseling to student support groups. It is easy to feel stuck, but there are resources ready to help and people who want to support you.
For better and for worse, you’re a twamp now. Best of luck, freshies.
Email Hallie Feinman at firstname.lastname@example.org.