The day you’ve been counting down for all summer is finally here: move in day! Freshmen are surely experiencing many mixed emotions and hopefully are looking forward to O-Week and the beginning of classes. The very beginning of college is unlike any other time during your Cornell experience, and you want to make the most of it. Here are some things you should do to maximize your first few weeks on campus.
1Attend the orientation events, even after classes start.
O-Week may only be three days before classes begin, but the orientation programming continues for several weeks. Even though you’ll have some work to juggle, it’s important to continuously expose yourself to new experiences and new people throughout the first few weeks at school. If you have a free hour or two, see what’s going on around campus and ask someone in your dorm to accompany you there! The orientation events are ideal ways to have your questions answered and meet like-minded people who also want to try interesting Cornell events and activities.
2Leave your door open whenever possible.
Unless you or your roommate are sleeping or doing work, try to leave the door to your room open as much as possible. Since you have probably lived at home your whole life, the dorm environment is exciting and you’ll want to take advantage of having so many people around. Even if no one stops into your room to say hello, walking down a hallway of open doors creates a friendly and welcoming environment for you and your fellow classmates. One of the perks of living on North Campus is that everyone is a first-year student, and they are likely experiencing similar things as you.
Your freshman year of college is all about making new friends and new connections. You don’t know anyone yet, so don’t exclude any potential friends. Traveling as part of a big pack is one of the things that makes orientation and the first few weeks of school so exciting and so social. Invite your whole floor to dinner and invite classmates to lunch. Take advantage of all the new faces you are bound to meet—make them friendly ones.
4Seek academic help early and often, before you even need it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the exciting social events at the beginning of school, but don’t forget about staying on top of your academics. Visit your professor and TAs during their office hours well before you begin preparing for prelims, and even if you don’t have specific questions, you can go to listen to other students’ questions. There are so many people at school willing to help you, as long as you seek it out.
5Make the most of each day on campus.
As tempting as it may seem, try not to get in the habit of napping in between classes or even walking back to North campus to visit your dorm. You’ll be most productive with your school work if you stay on campus throughout the day and spend your breaks in a library or cafe. Also, you can avoid wasting time walking if you just pack your bag and plan to stay on central campus until you’re done with your last class or club meeting. If you need a break from an academic setting during the day, enjoy the warm weather while it lasts and sit on the back patio of Willard Straight Hall or on the slope between classes.
6Attend the club fair and sign up for more than you’ll actually do.
The club fair is a great way to see the variety of clubs and activities on campus. There are hundreds of student organizations on campus, and the quickest way to make yourself feel at home at Cornell is to get involved with some. Even if you are not positive that you’re interested in participating, don’t be afraid of putting your name down on several club email list serves. At least you will have access to the information if you need it.
7Support your new friends/hallmates in their organizations.
When your roommate or new friend asks you to attend something, go if you’re available, even if it’s something you would not ordinarily go to. You may surprise yourself and enjoy whatever it is you see, but at the very least, being a supportive friend goes a long way.
8Promise to return home with the same group you leave with.
Take extra precaution when going out at night—especially during O-week—that several people know where you are. If you are going out with five friends, don’t leave a party until all five friends are ready to go. It’s important to stay safe and stay accountable for yourself and your roommate/friends.
9Most importantly, keep yourself healthy.
The beginning of college is not the time to get sick; you won’t want to miss all the fun that’s coming your way. Make sure you are sleeping, eating a somewhat balanced diet, and exercising when you have the time. Getting sick or run down in school can also make you feel more homesick because you now live on your own and must take care of yourself.
With these tips in mind, remember to enjoy—or at least try to embrace—all the uncertainty that undoubtedly comes with your first few weeks on campus. In a few months from now, when you are a Cornell expert, you’ll laugh at all the things you didn’t know.