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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

Just freshman things

Another summer has come and gone, meaning those of us returning to campus will experience once again the drawstring-bag toting, loaded-cargo-shorts wearing, staring-at-the-Notre-Dame-mobile-app-map freshmen. Before you ask, no, this is not going to be a 'freshmen are the most annoying thing ever' column. Trust me, I would not have accepted an RA position if these things actually bothered me that much.

Rather, this column is intended to both inform our beloved freshmen about their tendencies that make us chuckle or sigh and provide gentle guidance from the upperclassmen who have already walked the walk of freshman year.

First, don’t buy more than a couple ND shirts. A simple random sample of seniors or juniors walking around this campus reveals an important fact for any freshman’s wallet: aside from buying “The Shirt” at the bookstore and assorted hoodies and long sleeves, you are almost guaranteed to graduate from this University with an inordinate excess of ND t-shirts. From Mental Health Awareness Week to AnTostal to that one club you randomly paid dues for, I wish my freshman self had known that I now literally have too many ND shirts to bring to school and wear. Hey, at least that means that trips back home for breaks are very Irish.

Secondly, know the bi-directional Dining Hall lines. While this one usually works itself out by the end of the first several weeks of school, let’s get it out now: the food lines at both South and North have one side where you enter, and another side where you exit. The frustrated upperclassman that got cut in line by an unknowing freshman thanks you.

Don’t have a Welcome Weekend-stereotype for one dining hall over the other. Yes, we get it — in terms of convenience and location, there will be an inevitable preference for one Dining Hall over the other for the first couple months or years of school. Don’t let that discourage you from exploring what the other side of campus has to offer, though — as a three-year resident of Duncan Hall and Jordan Hall of Science, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to benefit from the fine selection offered by both DH’s. Seniors: don’t be one of those people who relentlessly disparages North Dining Hall because of the one time the spinach on top of your pizza got a little crispy or the Rec Room was out of Dippin’ Dots.

Don’t believe that providing an email at Activities Night signifies any sort of commitment for a club or student organization. On September 1, SAO will cram every student organization on this campus into the JACC, providing one of the best avenues for both new and current students to get involved in the myriad clubs available at ND. After singing up for the email ListServ of approximately fifteen organizations, however, I found myself worried about not being able to make it to the callout meetings for each (spoiler: I didn’t.). The one club I did stick with, however, ended up being one of my most meaningful experiences that I’m still involved with today. The key takeaway here: keep an open mind at Activities Night, but also know that the club officers realize everyone else is just testing the waters like you, so their feelings will certainly remain in tact if you stop showing up.

Please don’t talk in terms of ACT’s/SAT’s/AP’s/GPA’s/class ranks. If there’s one thing we upperclassmen know, it’s that we’re the dumbest generation of Notre Dame students yet. Every year, the Office of Admissions ensures that the entering class is smarter and cooler than ever before. That being said, though, you will soon find that the high school where you found taking 5 AP’s while being involved in seventeen clubs to be a breeze is drastically different than Our Lady’s University.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Notre Dame, as amazing as it is, can often be overwhelming. Due to the perception that everyone else has his or her stuff together, it can be embarrassing to admit that you need help in any area, let alone pursue that help. As someone who personally benefited from tutoring in general chemistry my freshman year and eventually tutored the course two years later, I know that admitting you need help is difficult. But at the end of the day, asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of whatsoever. From your RA to your first year advisor to the University Counseling Center, there are so many resources available to help you transition to college as smoothly as possible. Don’t let pride get in the way of you getting the resources necessary to succeed.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.