FAC co-chair shares how to make the most out of freshman year
Few freshmen will ever forget the first faces they see as they arrive on move-in day. Teams of First-Year Advisory Counselors form to provide guidance and support to the newest residents of the Duke campus. Seniors Lizete Dos Santos and Sarah Haas, FAC Board Co-Chairs, were tasked with overseeing the group of nearly 250 counselors. The Chronicle's Kali Shulklapper talked with Dos Santos about the wisdom she hopes to pass down to the Class of 2018.
The Chronicle: What is the most important thing for freshman to keep in mind during Orientation Week in order to keep cool, calm and collected? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, what would you recommend doing?
Lizete Dos Santos: It's really important to remember that this is their new home. Duke's Welcome Week is one of the best in the nation, take full advantage of it. Enjoy all the events because you only get to enjoy them once. However, if you feel overwhelmed it's okay to take some time to yourself to just regroup. Do what you feel is manageable for you.
TC: What is the best way to meet new people during Orientation Week? Which events do you absolutely recommend attending?
LDS: Just be open and curious. Whether you're introverted or extroverted, be brave and start a conversation, ask questions, listen and tell your story. Taste of Duke, Night on the Town and Night at the Nasher are my personal favorites.
TC: What is your best advice for freshman about getting involved on campus? What are some of the best outlets and places to look?
LDS: Take your time and choose quality over quantity. It's okay to not have it all figured out in the first week, take some time to feel out certain groups and see whether it's manageable with your schedule. Choose a few things you're really passionate about or explore and try something new. Definitely ask your FAC about opportunities at Duke and attend the Activities Fair.
TC: Do you have any suggestions for making the add/drop period seem a little bit less overwhelming?
LDS: The classes you selected this summer aren't set in stone. You have time to choose a new class if one is overwhelming or wasn't what you expected. Be patient with the process. It will take time to adjust but be honest with yourself about what you can handle. You have four years to complete your academic requirements so first semester of your first-year should be filled with classes you really enjoy.
TC: In terms of living with a college budget, what is the best piece of advice you could give?
LDS: The Financial Aid Office runs several workshops on budgeting and how to allocate your money—take advantage of them. I would say until you're feeling settled, only spend money on what you really need. Reach out to your FAC or any upperclassmen who can give you tips like buying your books from other students or off Amazon for cheaper prices. Duke offers so much fun and exciting programming for free, you don't have to go off campus to have fun.
TC: When it comes to your roommate, what is the best way to handle a not-so-great living situation?
LDS: First, have a conversation with your roommate. Explain to each other what your expectations are of each other when it comes to your shared living space. Don't feel like you have to be best friends to enjoy living with each other. However, if you feel like you're not getting anywhere—reach out to your RA and they can intervene and hopefully resolve the situation.
TC: What are the best or most underrated study spots on campus?
LDS: The Duke Gardens are perfect on a sunny day when you need to just get some reading done.
TC: Where should freshmen go for the best food venues both on and off campus?
LDS: On Campus: the Divinity School Refectory, Law School Refectory and The Loop. Off Campus: Dame's Chicken and Waffles, Bull City Burger and Palace International.
TC: What is one thing you regret about freshman year or something you would definitely tell freshman to take advantage of?
LDS: Take time to build community with your dorm, but also don't be afraid to get to know people outside your dorm too.
TC: What is the number one thing to remember during the first few weeks?
LDS: The first few weeks are always exciting but remember to take some time to yourself and reflect on your experiences. Enjoy each moment and be curious—ask questions, support each other and just take it day by day. You'll feel at home before you know it.