It's hot. It's summer. It's 48 hours till move-in. And the last thing you want to be thinking about is school starting...but in a little less than a week, you'll be here. "Studying and learning" is what your parents think you'll be up to, but to you that translates to "sleeping and partying." The last thing you want to think about are rules, but here's a quick guide on how to start your first week off right. After all, the rumors are true...you can get expelled before your first week begins.
Rule #1: Smile
You may know everyone. Or maybe you know no one. So just put on a smile and make the most of it. Maybe you can't stop smiling because this was your number one school or maybe you were forced to go to this place where you just can't find a pretty Instagram picture in sight (gasp). Just smile and know that everything will be okay. College is new to all the other freshman. While as upperclassmen may look intimidating, we're really not. We know what you're going through because we too were freshmen at some point. We may look like we have it all figured out and know our way around campus, when really we're just panicking over our futures...because that means we have to graduate from campus, even if we do decide to get a job at Elon. (Tears).
Rule #2: Try
Try something new each day and don't regret it. I'm talking about little things that maybe you did in high school or have forgotten about. Make a new friend. Join a new club. Try a new food. Learn something new. Be someone new.
Rule #3: Accept Change
Along with trying, you will have to realize that you must accept change. Even if you are from Elon and were born and raised in the town, you are still opening up a new chapter of your life. You might be thinking, "Blah, blah, blah, that's what they told me at graduation." Well, it is true. There are parts of you from high school you may want to leave behind. There are some things you just can't change no matter how hard you try. But there are limitless opportunities to explore, grow, discover and enrich your life in ways you probably never imagined. But you have to be willing to try new experiences in order to have all those cool things you dream of happening, happen.
Rule #4: Just Go With It
You may not want to be doing every activity at orientation. You may be questioning why you chose Elon or maybe why you're even at school. There are plenty more questions that I can't think of answers for, but four words that you should consistently remind yourself are, "just go with it." Orientation activities may seem pointless. Your parents may be getting their 187th picture of you in your room without your hat on while pretending to study and look candid. You may find the diagonal pathways mildly obnoxious since you just want to walk in 5 feet in front of you without stepping on the grass. But just go with the flow and observe, listen. Don't over think what your heart desires most, but don't throw caution into the wind and end up burnt toast.
Rule #5: Be Smart at ALL Times
Yes, I'm pulling the safe and smart card because you cannot hear it enough. Your parents, perhaps even your older siblings or teachers or extended families, have drilled in your brain that nothing is more important that YOU. College can be fun, if you play it right. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean you should or have to. You don't have to drink. You don't have to party. You don't have to smoke. You don't have to study until 3 a.m. You don't have to be best friends with every professor. And you definitely don't have to join every club or organization. You're new at college and we all know that you want to go to those frat parties you've heard so much about. From the guys and girls that will be there, to the copious flow of booze, perhaps a bong or two, raging music, and conversations you won't remember the next day, but are glad to have had that night.
Whether you are at a pre-game or party you need to remember that your parents are not there to care for you if something were to happen. Unless you have a twin, older sibling or you and your significant other are engaged or married, good luck having that one person actually die for you. This is not to say you are not loved; you really are on your own and must remember how vulnerable you are and how deceiving others can be. Don't make yourself a victim in a situation that could be avoided all together. Don't get into a car with someone who has been drinking. You just got to campus and YOU MATTER to the Elon community. Don't risk your life for a night of fun. You're worth much more than your coolness status. Also, the cops are on super high alert the first month of school. While we do live in a college town, and underage drinking occurs, there is no excuse for poor behavior.
But you really should have fun, freshies! Stay safe. It it feels wrong, it probably is. Just because your friend does something does not mean you have to. After all, you'll see who your real friends are when you walk across the stage at Commencement. But first, you have to get through Convocation. Good luck!