With NSO starting in just a few weeks, you’re probably wondering what this orientation thing is all about. Below, we’ve republished and compiled some words of wisdom from previous Voice staffers and previous editions of Prefrosh Preview to help you get a sense of what your first few days on the Hilltop will be like.
You don’t have to go to every NSO event, but try to attend a few. You should definitely go to HoyaRealTalk, where Georgetown students put on an annual performance that addresses issues such as sexual assault and drinking that you’ll face as a first year student. But as you’ll quickly learn, events that are “required” in college aren’t mandatory in any sense of the word. If you need some time to unpack or shop for supplies, don’t worry about opting out of a few NSO programs. That said, NSO generally hosts some useful and entertaining events—”Pluralism in Action” and the convocation are pretty inspiring—and it’s not like there’s anything better to do during your first few days.
You don’t have to read the assigned summer book or go to the lecture. There are lots of rumors that not writing the paper about the required book or not attending the lecture and discussion group will result in some terrible consequences down the line, such as getting a bad housing lottery number. The truth is Georgetown’s administration is nowhere near organized enough to pull off that kind of coordination.
Take your GOCard picture before hand: The line for pictures will be wrapped around Darnall, and you’ll be sweaty and exhausted. You don’t want that vision of yourself plastered on your ID for the next four years.
Avoid the bookstore at all costs. During the first few days, it’s tempting to resort to the bookstore as a convenient source of textbooks and last minute dorm necessities. Resist that temptation. The bookstore’s prices are positively extortionary, and you’ll be dealing with epic lines throughout the start of the semester. Unless you have an obsession with pristine textbooks, the best solution is to order your books used online. Check out our detailed guide to buying textbooks.
If you end up switching into a course at the last minute (you can do that until the end of the second week at school) and ordering online won’t get you a book you need in time, try to borrow it from one of your new classmates. (Don’t forget to check if Lauinger Library has a copy.) Failing that, buy the first book on the syllabus from the bookstore and get the rest online.
Don’t worry if you don’t find a BFF the first few weeks. There’s lots of pressure to find your new college buddies right away, but don’t be too upset if it doesn’t immediately happen. Most of the people you end up hanging out with the first few weeks are totally random—either your OA group, or your floormates, or your new acquaintances from your pre-orientation group, or acquaintances of acquaintances—and there’s no guarantee you’ll have anything in common with them.
Sure, some people stick with their freshman floor friends for all four years, but many don’t. Give it a few weeks before you start stressing—most of the conversations you’ll be having your first few days will be really enthusiastic, but also really superficial.
Don’t be an asshole to your parents. If your parents are dropping you off, you’re probably already plotting how to get them out of your hair as quickly as possible so you can enjoy the wonders of college social life. As tempting as it is to blow them off in favor of bonding with your newfound BFF, be nice. Just remember they’re only here for a couple of days and you really don’t want them stewing over any perceived slights from now until Thanksgiving Break.
Trust your instincts about classes and take advantage of add/drop period. Add/drop period happens at the beginning of every semester where you can basically shop for classes and change up your schedule. It’s easy to be an apologist about lackluster classes since it can be a bit of a hassle to switch, especially if a class is full, but you really should trust your instincts. If you leave the first meeting dreading the rest of the semester, don’t be afraid to look for alternates. Email and speak to professors personally—if you show enough interest, your desired professor might let you into the class even if it’s full. Add/drop period only lasts a week and a half, so you really have to act quickly and go with your gut.
Buy dorm supplies locally. It’s a big hassle to schlep a dorm room’s worth of stuff down to D.C., so it’s generally a good idea to just wait until you’re here. If you’re worried about not being able to find anything in stock, a lot of stores will let you order online and designate in-store pick up.
You don’t have to get shitfaced your first night at Georgetown. Epic drunkenness aside, you don’t want to be standing in the interminable Convocation line while bidding farewell to your parents with a head-splitting hangover.
Hammer out rules with your roommate early on. The “roommate contract” may seem lame when your RA tells you about it, but go ahead and fill it out. As awesome as your roomie may seem on CHARMS and during the first few days, you’ll be shocked how quickly things can turn sour. That’s not to say they necessarily will, but it’s best to figure out your standards for cleaning, noise, hosting people and sexiling early, before you find yourself in passive-aggressive territory. Your RA will be referring to that roommate contract whenever a roommate mediation takes place, so take that piece of document seriously.