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The freshman 72-hour challenge

Chris Masoud | Saturday, August 20, 2011

Welcome home.

According to the numbers, you are the most accomplished incoming class to date. Your SAT and ACT scores are well above national averages and your high school rank is one digit long. I’m just glad I was born in 1990.

Some of you are national scholars. Others are all-state varsity athletes. Some are both, and yet all of you were chosen based on your prior feats and more importantly, future potential.

But you are still the most unaccomplished students on campus — until this weekend. You’ve yet to take a single class, complete an assignment, lead a Notre Dame cheer, finish a set of pushups in the student section, walk into a dorm party, leave a dorm party or, the ultimate prize, accept a full-time job offer. And by the end of this weekend, that list will still be waiting for you.

Yet I challenge you over the next 72 hours to make a name for yourself. Let people remember you for all the right reasons.

It all starts with moving in. If you haven’t already, introduce yourself to your roommate(s) and hallmates, their parents, RAs, ARs and, most importantly, your rector. First impressions last, and getting off to the right start could be particularly helpful after tonight.

Continue meeting as many people as possible. Enjoy the stunning weather, read a section or two of DuLac between open houses and get to know the upperclassmen in your section, especially the sophomores. They will show you the ropes better than anyone.

I suppose I could continue giving tips like this for the whole weekend, but this is your freshman orientation. Like the next four years, define your experience on your own terms.

In more ways than one, Freshman Orientation weekend is like a snapshot of the next four years. You meet an incredible number of people, you form friendships, you learn, you socialize, you forget, you say goodbye and you remember — it’s up to you to fill in the details. Freshmen at Purdue and Indiana have a similar set of orientation activities planned.

Over the next four years, they will go to classes, attend home football games, form relationships and socialize just like hundreds of students across the country.

But college is a story of details. Embrace Notre Dame for the details that no other student body in the nation has the opportunity to experience.

Attend Mass in the Basilica, take a tour of ND Stadium and form a Bookstore Basketball team.

Or make your own list. Just make sure it’s unique to you and this university. And don’t get caught up in the stories you hear from old friends.

Every year fall break comes along, we go back home and we exchange stories with high school classmates.

Greek life is great, but alas, it will never be a part of this campus.

So don’t force it. Share your experience of throwing a party in an 8 foot by 10 foot dorm room, attending the first night game at the Big House or grabbing 33-cent dogs at the Huddle. Embrace your dormitory.

Notre Dame will make your college experience unique to the rest of the nation, but your dorm will make your experience unique to the rest of the campus.

Accept the natural rivalry that exists between the halls, participate in signature hall events and take on a leadership role. Make a name for yourself.

Put in the time in the classroom, of course. You can’t use “transitioning to college” as a footnote on your resume, but don’t let grades define your four-year experience.

Coming back to this weekend — live in the moment. You can use the next 72 hours to make every effort to form friendships and relationships without any awkward pretenses, so take advantage, even at Domerfest.

Lastly, don’t worry about the homesick feeling you might get in the middle of next week.

It passes quickly and by Friday it doesn’t come back.

Chris Masoud is a senior Finance and Economics Major living off-campus. He can be reached at [email protected]

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