As a senior, I hope I have hindsight, and a chance to clue you into your humble beginnings at Vassar College. What follows is an abbreviated, subjective list of what events will mark your first six weeks at Vassar College. Hard-earned advice and encouragement is peppered throughout. Seasoned to taste.
MOVE-IN DAY// Aug. 27 // Your Dorm
Cars and students will rush in and out. You will see House Team—those are your fellow students in charge of your dorm—waving and yelling in delight, dressed in your new home’s official color. You should drop your boxes at the foyer; let them help you move in. You’re finally here. You will meet your student fellow group and roommate. Get some sleep—if you aren’t staying up late swapping stories and playing truth-or-dare with your new hall-mates, of course. Or strip poker.
ORIENTATION // Aug. 27 through Sept. 2 // Your Floor, Your Room, Your EVERYTHING
This is housekeeping and bonding time. Your student fellow will walk you through various campus resources, field your questions and you will socialize way too much. Go explore places in your spare time (you’ll have plenty of it) like the
Deece Sunset Lake. Visit every dorm and laugh at how much worse they are compared to your obviously superior dorm. This is a lovely period of time—you have little commitments, the fresh adrenaline of a new experience, and hall-mates eager to make friends. Have fun.
FIRST WEEK OF CLASS // Sept. 3 // All-over Campus
Wait, I have to go class too? Well, you are in college, aren’t you? Relax. Class is fun. You’ll discover what interests you. Do not be afraid to befriend your fellow classmates. It is easy to get caught up in your fellow group, but just go for it: branch out. You never know who you’ll meet. Consult your student fellow—or any non-freshmen—for help getting to your academic building. If you’re late, don’t worry about running. Professors understand that you’re still adjusting.
FALL CONVOCATION // Sept. 11 at 3:30 p.m. // The Chapel
This concludes your orientation week. You file into the chapel and listen to a speech. This year, Professor of Biology John Long will deliver the convocation address. Typically, it is still hot at this time—especially in the chapel, as lovely as it is. While this officially marks the beginning of the academic year, attendance is not mandatory and you won’t miss much. Take a nap if you want. You better get used to napping at unorthodox times now. This is college.™
SERENADING // Sept. 15 // Your Dorm, Ballantine Field
Serenading is an ever-changing tradition. Before us seniors were around, it was a ridiculously wasteful food fight. That morphed into a water-gun fight. It’s still that, right? But this has stayed consistent: you will craft a song that expresses your devotion to the senior class of 2014. This is typically a parody. Add in some good coordinated dancing; every dorm performs on Ballantine Field for the senior class, who picks the winner. Impress us.
Winners get some sweet rewards for their dorm. Past awards have included ice cream and a Wii.
FIRST LAUNDRY DAY // Sometime Soon, I hope // Your dorm
If you don’t know what to do, just do, uh, permanent press. Use an alarm and LaundryView, a webapp that shows which machines are in use and when they are set to stop, to plan your laundry time. Your hall-mates can advise you on doing laundry if you’re actually concerned. Don’t leave your detergent there; someone will “borrow” it.
Do it on an off-day, like Tuesday, to avoid a crowded room. If you aren’t in the laundry room when the machine finishes, someone might very well place your clothing—wet or dry—in some nook or cranny to free up that machine.
FRESHMAN FAMILIES WEEKEND // Late September // All-over
You went to college to get some distance from your parents. This is why the College has designated a specific weekend for your
bankrollers parents. You spend a few hours with them, their arrival isn’t nearly as embarrassing, and they have things to keep them busy on-campus. Past events have included: advisory panels, professor lectures, a reception, food at the Deece (you know that’s where you eat by now, I hope) and music from Vassar’s resident faculty-student folk band The Roundabout Ramblers.
By no means is this list isn’t complete. Your first-year experience is unique. You might get sexiled. You might discover your major during the first week. So, here’s some other parting advice from a now-nostalgic senior: Go with the flow. Try new things. Be open-minded. Seriously listen to your hall-mates in conversation; you can learn a lot from them. Your student fellow is cool and laid-back and helpful. Join an extracurricular (The Miscellany News, perhaps?). Avoid the Deece; go to Kismat or Tokyo Express whenever you can. Don’t be afraid of non-freshmen. We’re in the same school and would love to befriend you. Now, go experience your freshmen year.