If you’ve gotten the official lines from the AU administration and parent-friendly tour guides but are wondering about the useful ins and outs of daily student life, then read on, freshman traveler. The Eagle offers you a quick guide to what you need to know when you get here in August.
The first place at AU in which you’ll be spending a lot of time is in the residence halls, either at the South Side complex (Anderson, Letts, Centennial) or at the North Side (McDowell, Leonard, Hughes). Chances are you’ll meet your roommate(s) pretty quickly, so hopefully you’ve already talked to him or her over the summer. Even if you have, however, remember to set up rules or agreements early on about things like loud music, late visitors, etc. Communicating clearly and early with your roommate will make it easier for everyone to live in peace. Remember to be considerate of your fellow residents and get to know your floormates. Some of the people you meet on your floor might end up being close friends.
If you like to stay up late and party or are considering a fraternity or sorority career at AU, South Side is the place to be. However, it tends to be very noisy, and be prepared for numerous fire alarms at odd hours of the night. The North Side tends to be more floor-oriented and quieter, and is probably more ideal for studying. If you’re an international student or an athlete, chances are you’ll probably be at home on North Side.
Perhaps the most important thing to know about the dorms is that they are dry - in other words, you can get in some serious trouble if you’re caught with alcohol, no matter your age. Still, you’ll have a lot of fun in the dorms. Get to know your R.A. and stay on his or her good side, and don’t abuse or trash the common lounges. Don’t pack too much - your space is very limited - and don’t decorate the outside of your door too heavily because people will steal or wreck anything you put on it. When you move in, use the big elevators (the Centennial elevator is great if you’re moving into Anderson or Letts), but otherwise don’t take the elevator unless you live on or above the fourth floor because everyone will yell at you and give you dirty looks if you take it to the second or third floor. Bring your ID everywhere and show it at the front desk, and, last but not least, don’t throw up anywhere but in the toilets - everyone gets charged with floor damages, and no one wants to dodge puke in the hallway or in the sink.
AU has a somewhat active campus life, so get involved as soon as you can. Whether you’re interested in student government, religious life, or some of AU’s hundreds of clubs, make an effort to see what’s out there and go to introductory meetings. Go to the club fair at the start of the semester, but remember that there are many more opportunities and special interests for you to explore as well. To see what’s going on, check bulletin boards and announcements outside classrooms, talk to your friends and read The Eagle (hey, we had to plug ourselves somewhere). Be aware of your resources, such as the Career Center, Bender Library and Student Activities. Although you may love to roam with your freshman TDR/floor posse, try to expand your horizons. Classes and clubs are two great places to meet people.
You should also remember to be safe when having fun. When you go to frat parties, which are all off-campus, bring your friends along and watch your drink. This may be the only year you’re able to drink frat beer without shuddering, so take advantage of it. When you stumble back to campus, watch out for other hooligans and be aware of the Blue Lights, which you can always press in an emergency.
D.C. is a fantastic and exciting city, and you should explore it as soon and as thoroughly as possible. Grab your friends and go monument hopping (especially fun at night) and learn the Metro system. You should also know where it’s safe to be after dark (it’s a good idea to stay out of Southeast and certain parts of Northeast). Read the City Paper, On Tap and other publications and take advantage of local events.
It’s a heady feeling when you get to college and you start having fun with new people, but classes are still very important. Classes are expensive and often intriguing, so showing up is always a good idea. It’s OK to skip once or twice, but making it a habit is not a good idea. However, don’t be scared if your grades dip a little in your first semester - it’s relatively normal and no one expects you to have a 4.0 your first semester (no one besides your parents, anyway).
Take different kinds of classes to find out what you like, because your major will probably change at least once while you’re here. If you know what you want to do, be aware of when and what you have to take to fulfill your major and/or minor requirements. Communicate with your professors and use their office hours, and don’t be afraid to get to know them better after you’ve had a class with them. Professors are here to help you, and they can be a great resource down the road when you’re looking for a job. Remember to use your advisors as well, and see them early before the big enrollment rush begins.
Although TDR may seem attractive at first, it gets old fast. You don’t need the Super Plan (unlimited meals) and you don’t have to go to TDR every day. Your EagleBuck$ can be used many places, including all the food vendors on campus and at several restaurants off campus. You can also use them to do your laundry, but always keep an eye on your total, because EagleBuck$ go fast. If you want to cook for yourself, shop at the grocery stores, not at the Eagle’s Nest - unless you need only a few items.
Good luck and fare thee well, freshmen.