AASA Events During Opening Days

Freshmen General Assembly
Wed. Sept. 1, 10 PM-11 PM
LC 102

Prelude: Annual Fall Dance
Fri. Sept. 3, 10 PM-1AM
Saybrook Dining Hall

Freshmen BBQ
Sat. Sept. 4, 11 AM-2PM
Old Campus

AASA Freshmen Liaisons Elections
Wed. Sept. 8, 7 PM-8 PM
AACC (295 Crown St.)

Survival Guide to Extracurriculars at Yale

Going through the barrage of flyers and free candy at the Extracurricular Bazaar my freshman year, I became even more clueless as to what kinds of activities I wanted to do than before coming to Yale. (And pity the poor fool who didn’t have his handy “No, I Don’t Sing” sticker.) So I decided to go gung-ho the first few weeks and sign up for a ton of extracurriculars, eventually crashing and burning on a five-hour sleep schedule. Don’t be like me, and take these few pieces of advice when it comes to extracurriculars at Yale:

1. Leave the résumé building behind.

Sure, in high school, you’re tempted to tack on that extra bullet about “volunteering at an animal hospital”, but college isn’t about that anymore. Definitely explore all that Yale has to offer, but in the end, it’s best to stick to a couple extracurriculars you’re truly passionate about.

2. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Whether it’s sketch comedy or ballroom dancing, most organizations would love to have you, whether you have experience or not. It’s actually pretty common for Yalies to get involved with something they’ve never done before, so if you’ve you think intramural ping pong sounds fun even though you’ve never touched a ping pong paddle, go for it!

3. It’s okay to cut out activities, even mid-semester.

Sometimes, you just gotta say “No.” Know your limits, and don’t feel obligated to continue something you’re just not that interested in anymore. Freshman year is about figuring out what you want to do, but also what you don’t want to do.

4. Make time for friends too.

As much as you think you’re on top of everything with your color-coded G-calenders, don’t forget to make time for things like parties, eating out, or even impromptu movie nights with your friends. Don’t feel like you need to load up all the blank slots in your schedule with extracurriculars. You need time for yourself too.

5. And last but not least … take advantage of the FREE FOOD.

Claire’s cake, Ashley’s ice cream – you name it, chances are some organization at Yale is hosting an info session, and they’ve got it. Even if you wouldn’t even consider joining Yale Hillel, who’s gonna say no to free felafels? ;)

Just Another Upperclassman Advice List for Freshmen

Welcome to College! Here’s another compilation of tips from someone who has tread the path you’re about to walk.

Study abroad in the summer. See photos of the advanced studies in England program, courtesy of Patricia Veasey, a fellow participant in the program: http://veaseyengland.blogspot.com/

Don’t waste time. I don’t need to restate how much there is to do at Yale. And of course, you can’t do it all. But you should do as much as you can. That means minimize the sleeping in and time-sucking Facebooking, get out there, and keep yourself busy. Every minute is precious.

Chart How You’ve Changed. I think the best way to do this is to blog or somehow to just write about your day and to take pictures of the good times with friends. You’ll look back on them at the end of the year and be amazed at how Yale has changed you – hopefully for the better. I didn’t really record much of freshmen year and now a lot of it is fading. I have no pictures of what I looked like when I began, and kept very few class notes except those on my laptop.

Do Laundry in the Early Morning… if you don’t want your laundry touched by strangers.

Put some time into your appearance. This is not as superficial as it sounds. Looking back at some of the photos I did manage to take as a freshman, I can’t help but cringe at some. Take that extra 10 minutes to make your hair look presentable and trade in sweatpants for jeans, and you won’t mind showing your children those photos later on.

Skip classes… when necessary. I was one of those freshmen who showed up to every class, every section, even though at one point I was taking five classes and had two discussion sections. Listen to your intuition when it tells you you’re overdoing it. Though it’s a last-choice decision, not attending a class so that you can get enough sleep for the day or so that you can do some work for a more crucial class later is okay. Just don’t do it often. It’s counterintuitive but school is not always the priority. College is not as straightforward as high school.

Eat light dinners for two reasons: you’ll sleep better and won’t gain weight; and secondly there’s usually LOTS of late-night food available for you if you do get hungry later. I also recommend you keep a stash of healthy snacks, like fruit from the dining hall, grains, and nuts, stuff you won’t regret binging on after everything closes.

Take risks. Do one thing that scares you every day. Well, within limits. Don’t walk the streets of New Haven alone at night.

Get to know faculty, Deans, and Masters. Easiest way to do this, especially if you’re shy, is to chat with them when you have to make appointments for signing papers and stuff. You’ll also see them in the dining halls, which is more awkward but worth it. Warning: You may see classy people chew with their mouths open.

Know that you’ll improve. Surrounded by brilliant, talented people you’re bound to feel inferior at times. Don’t be scared of your weaknesses. What’s important to realize is that you’ve got the core skills that Yale admissions has recognized as your potential to do great things. Therefore, take every opportunity to learn as much as you can. Remember that classes are not the only part of a Yale education – learn from classmates, from your family when you go back home full of college experiences, and most importantly, learn from your mistakes!

Save money. I don’t care if you have a four-year full ride scholarship to Yale. Just finding ways to save money – hunting out discounts, DIY, and cutting and tracking excess expenses – is a valuable skill that will serve you well in life. It’s not too early to look for some charities in need of donations. And if you’re counting on Wall Street to fund your future, obviously that’s not a safe bet.

Read advice. You don’t have to make the mistakes to learn from them! Take other people’s experiences and build up your wisdom. Also, the internet is truly useful to find out things you’re too shy/lazy to ask people about. There are great resources out there AND some that are both fun and educational, the perfect procrastination tobacco patch. Take internet information with a grain of salt, though, unless you’ve read it on this blog, of course  :)

Back to School: Let’s go to the mall!

Color-coded excel spreadsheets are fun and highly recommended.

Having only been through the whole frenzied process a whopping two times, I can hardly call myself an expert on shopping classes at Yale. Nonetheless, here are a few particularly important (imo) ~pearls of wisdom~ I’ve accumulated in my first year, which I hope can be of some help as you make your way through shopping period, be it for the first time or the seventh.

“Get out of your comfort zone.”

This isn’t high school anymore. Classes no longer have to fit into the neat categories of “English, Math, Science, History, Language, etc. etc.” (but by all means, if you’re interested in all of these subjects, go forth and shop to your heart’s content!) It goes against Yale’s mantra of a well-rounded liberal arts education, but if you come in knowing that you only want to take classes in the classics department, no one is going to stop you.* However, this is shopping period. To the indecisive, the commitment-phobes, or the absurbedly focused (or science majors with too many pre-reqs): this is your chance to try something wild, something you probably won’t be able to take/fit into your schedule (but providing the 5% chance that you’ll fall in love with the subject and having your life changed forever – well, that’s the romantic version of it anyway). Don’t think; JUST DO IT.

“Take advantage of course evaluations.”

While browsing on OCI, click the convenient link on each course description that takes you to the course evaluations. The ratings will give a general idea of the type and number of students enrolling in the class in previous years, as well as how difficult or well-taught it was. More importantly though, look at what past students say about the class; you just may find that the really cool-sounding fifth class you were looking at mostly involves boring readings or grueling psets. In my experience, these reviews have been more helpful than anything else (short of personally talking to the professor and past students), including reading the syllabi or going to a lecture or two. A word of warning though – professors read these reviews too, and usually make adjustments based on feedback from previous semesters, so take away from the recs what you will. (Don’t believe what people say about “gut” classes! They can often be hit-or-miss.)

“If you’re interested in a class with limited enrollment, email the professor ahead of time, and get to classes early (if you can).”

Popular seminars (and even lectures) fill up quickly. Professors won’t ordinarily put a cap on the number of students in the first few classes, but if a classroom is so full that you can’t find a seat or even get through the door, chances are you won’t get too much out of the lesson (I like to think of it as akin to shopping on Black Friday). Come time for professors to finalize their enrollment lists, they’ll often go to those who have expressed prior interest first, although a few might utilize a simple first-come-first-serve system. By contacting the professor, you may get useful information on the course that may not be clear on the online syllabus, such as whether there is preference for majors in the subject or certain class years, helping you trim down your shopping list as well.