Each year in the last week of August, something magical happens in New Haven. This year, I was a part of this magic that is formally called “Freshmen Orientation,” but traditionally known as “Camp Yale.”
Five days before classes start, over 1,300 new Yalies are welcomed to campus. Many move into Old Campus, while students in Silliman and Timothy Dwight Colleges move directly into their respective residential colleges. Regardless of where incoming freshmen are living, move-in day is one of the most exciting days of the year. The campus is bursting with energy and ready to come alive.
On move-in day, cars drive up to Old Campus displaying a sign with the student’s residential college. As soon as someone sees the sign, he or she will shout the name of the college, and in my case, a swarm of upperclassmen dressed in Berkeley red and white descended on my car. They grabbed all of my bags, hauled them up to the third floor, and left my parents wondering, “What happened?” My parents, who expected to bring my suitcases up three flights of stairs, were flabbergasted! Just from my first few minutes on campus, I gained a sense of the vibrant community and willingness of the student body to go out of their way for each other.
On Day 1, freshmen are bound to meet (what seems like) a few thousand people. Much like everyone else, I shook too many hands to count, said my name a few hundred times, and met so many students who seemed overwhelmingly genuine and amiable. However, one person that all Yalies must meet on that first day is their Freshmen Counselor, or FroCo for short. Unlike many other colleges, a FroCo is not a “Resident Assistant” nor is he or she the police of the entryway. Instead, a FroCo is a senior from the residential college who lives in the entryway and who is there for academic, extracurricular, social, and emotional support. During the first few days of college, I loved meeting with my FroCo to talk about adjusting to college life and living in a college community, in my case, Berkeley College.
Before classes began, my FroCo, Katie, invited our whole group over to her suite for a Blue Booking party! I hadn’t put enough time into thinking about what I wanted to take my first semester and I was overwhelmed looking at our Programs of Study, a 642 page anthology of over 2,000 courses. Katie helped me choose a math course, an English seminar called “Hacker vs. Hater: Rhetorics of Digital Enlightenment” (there are only ten students in my class!), Quantitative Foundations of Chemistry (along with the accompanying laboratory), and Perspectives on Science and Engineering. I also shopped a microeconomics seminar and a history of medicine class that didn’t end up fitting into my schedule.
Navigating those first days of college can be pretty crazy, but they were some of the most exciting days of freshmen year thus far. I’ll always remember the freshmen assembly when President Levin and Dean Miller officially welcomed the class of 2014 to Yale. With the masters and deans of each of the residential colleges proudly representing their microcosm of the university on stage, we waved our 2014 bandanas as the Glee Club sang the Alma Mater.
Amidst all of the meetings, academic and extracurricular fairs, receptions, and performances, I learned one very important thing during Camp Yale: there are people here who truly care about me as an individual and as a member of a college community. Beyond the master and dean of my college and my FroCo, I was also given a faculty advisor who loves to meet with me over breakfast any day of the week when I just want to talk. However, no matter how many acclaimed advisors I have, I truly believe that my most valuable resources are my friends.
Camp Yale gears all students up with the essential resources they will need to succeed. The orientation to Yale life was fast-paced, exciting, and put me on the right track to getting settled in my new home.