College
by Lance Pauker on August 1, 2012

Midsummer means that half of incoming college freshmen have already gone to the “is this real life?” land that is their college orientation, while the other half wait around anxiously, increasingly overwhelmed by some deep-seated insecurity related to their fears of making friends outside of their high school parking lot.  While this is all well and good, it sets up a perfect recipe for the incredibly predictable happenings at college orientations across America. With that, here's your guide to 10 things that will happen during your freshman acclamation period: 

1. You'll Declare Your Undying Allegiance to Your School

In many ways, college is like a marriage. The relationship between student and school is often a reciprocal one, with both parties nurturing each other till that epiphanic moment where it all seems to fit–the moment that you realize convince yourself that there’s no other place like your dorm, your friends, and the food of the dining hall. Yes that food may be sh*tty, but it's YOUR sh*tty. 

College Orientation however, disregards all the rules of student/school relationships. Within hours of setting foot onto a campus, college orientations nationwide mandate that every student must immediately pledge their unwavering loyalty to a 400 acre piece of land, which will be underscored by a weird tradition completely meaningless to all new students. This is mostly because the incoming freshmen had never heard of the tradition until five minutes ago.

2. Unwillingly Participate In An “Ice-Breaker”

The unofficial motto of every college orientation is “If you are not having the absolute greatest time of your life, there is something fundamentally wrong with you as a person.”

Thus, as a cruel way of capitalizing on new students’ fears of not fitting in, orientation leaders often subject incoming freshman to a number of activities otherwise meant for four-year olds. Back in the days when I was an orientation leader, we were supposed to have our new homies participate in this game called “bunny bunny.” While I honestly don't remember what you did while playing “bunny bunny,” its biggest accomplishment was to get people to pretend like they were having fun for exorbitantly long amounts of time.

3. First Exposure to Bureaucratic Failings of Your School

Despite tuition rates that make every college appear like dauntingly well-run Utopias, every University has a thinly disguised underbelly, reeking of bureaucratic incompetence.

While it’s technically no one’s fault that you weren’t registered for History 101–and now have to sit in a freakishly air conditioned room for three hours so that a bearded guy called your “Dean” can change your schedule to accommodate a class that will have absolutely zero bearing on what you do after you graduate–this is something every college student must endure at some point. Best get it out of the way early. 

4. “Secret” Hookups 

As any rational person will realize, half of male orientation leaders do orientation so that they could meet girls. And even if they’re not looking to meet girls, females are naturally attracted to the charisma, awkward humor, and brightly colored t-shirts of their sophomore and junior superiors.

If no one is hooking up during orientation, it will serve as a nesting period for hookups at a later date. My school for instance, had an unwritten rule in which orientation leaders were supposed to wait 2 weeks before they hooked up with their freshman homies. Some people definitely followed it, though others got down and dirty to their hearts content. Frat. 

5. The Freshman “Veteran” Will Annoy The F*ck Out Everyone

Not only did she go on a wilderness tour with 7 other people (all of whom she’ll stop talking to by next semester), but her participation in the pre-orientation leadership development program conference summit initiative means that she’s head and shoulders above everyone else. Of course none of these things will matter two weeks, but for now she is Queen. And she’ll most certainly let you know it.

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6. You Won’t Say Hi to Someone You Recognize from Facebook

It’s no secret that the Facebook age has produced all sorts of astonishingly odd social interactions, many of which have profoundly affected college life. The “Class of 2014” group you spent four hours per day memorizing the ins and outs of every forum post inevitably led you recognizing a number of familiar faces–many of whom you’ll promptly ignore during orientation. All in all, acknowledging the other’s existence is just way too risky.

7. You Will Text Someone To Make It Look Like You Are Preoccupied

Much of orientation consists of weird downtime between events, during which its not proper protocol to strike up a conversation with the person next to you and ask them the same five questions you’ve been asking everyone else. (Let it be known that no one gives a sh*t you're majoring in History but are thinking about switching to Government)

Instead, it is proper etiquette to somehow have a ton of friends at school, who you will be texting incessantly because College! and New Profile Pics! and Best Friends Forever! It should be known however, at least half of the group will be texting their high school friends, significant others, or will just be pretending to type sh*t onto a screen.**

***Fake texts may have ceded to email checking and twitter feed scrolling, but the premise has withstood the test of time.

8. You Will Ponder Not Showing Up

There will be someone in your group–almost always an athlete or a foreigner–who will manage to never be at any event. Given the fact that everything you’ve done so far has been relatively useless, you’ll strongly consider not showing up to 10am breakfast. Except that you will, and then will promptly hate yourself for not sleeping off your hangover.  

9. At Least Half of Your Questions Will Be Answered Untruthfully

It’s not that orientation leaders want to lie to you. It’s that they have to make it seem like your school is the greatest place ever, while also keeping their job. Questions about alcohol, parties, drugs, sex, and avoiding class, despite being the primary reason half the population attends school, often need to be approached diplomatically. An answer too forthright will make the particularly innocent girl feel uncomfortable, and we most certaintly can't have that.

While this approach essentially defeats the entire purpose of orientation, it is sadly a reality.

10. Orientation Will Have Little or No Bearing on What You Actually Do In College

Unless you sit around in a circle playing Kumbaya, spend every waking moment drinking hot chocolate from the school’s overhyped hot chocolate store that is remarkably still in business, and join those overly politically correct organizations that orientation is made for, orientation will be three days of you doing sh*t you’ll never do again. IN fact, it will only be talked about at 4am when you and your buddies are blitzed out of your mind, recalling why the f*ck they gave you a visor for winning that gluten-free scavenger hunt.

The 9th Semester appears every Wednesday.  Follow Me on Twitter

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