Welcome to Duke University, first-years. You have spent the summer waiting, reviewing your Blue Book, signing up for classes and posting on the Duke 2021 Facebook page. 

During your Orientation Week, you may find yourself lost or otherwise confused. Luckily, Jordan Hale, director and assistant dean of new student programs, and seniors Whitney Hazard and Kyle Miller, First-Year Advisory Council co-chairs, chimed in to let you know what to expect during O-Week.

Your experience will begin with what Hazard and Miller consider their favorite part of Orientation Week, move-in day. Hazard and Miller said they enjoy welcoming new Blue Devils to their home on East Campus, so that first-years can feel like they belong as soon as they arrive.

“Duke has such a unique move-in day experience, and the way the FACs help everyone move in is representative of the support they can find at Duke,” Hazard and Miller wrote in an email.

Next year when you move in, FACs will be nowhere in sight, so enjoy it while it lasts.

On move-in day, you’ll pick up a first-year planner, which Hazard and Miller highly recommend you use. The planner has information about Orientation Week, the First Big Week and other big events throughout the school year.

Throughout the week, you’ll attend some unique events. New from last year are sessions focusing on creating a community to reduce gender violence on campus, Hale wrote in an email. These sessions include a floor meeting with Resident Assistants and a new session with the community safety team within Duke Police. Additionally, you’ll listen to the summer reading author, Richard Blanco, at the Durham Convention Center.

However, Hale’s recommendations for must-attend events have been established in previous Orientation Weeks.

“All the above events are can't miss, but I would also add the Brodie Gym Blowout on Wednesday evening, the class photo Wednesday afternoon and the Night at the Nasher Saturday evening,” Hale wrote.

Although these events sound exciting, many first-years find themselves worried. Hazard and Miller noted that there are a variety of concerns across the first-year student body. They wrote that they often see first-years worried about handling academic life at Duke, finding extracurricular activities to join or navigating living away from home for the first time.

However, the most common worry affects first-years of all kinds.

“Some people come to Duke excited for college, and ready to go. Others are much more hesitant and nervous about this big change,” Hazard and Miller wrote. “Across the group, the most common worry we see is the desire to find a community at Duke.”

If you find yourself worried, Hazard and Miller recommend using some of Duke’s many resources for students. They noted that first-years can seek advice from their FACs, RAs, their Faculty-in-Residence, advisers, professors and their peers.

As all good things come to an end, so will your Orientation Week. Former Duke basketball player Grant Hill will be concluding Orientation Week by addressing the Class of 2021 in a discussion on values and ethics, Hale wrote.

But even after it ends, the things you learn from Orientation Week are designed to stay with you for their rest of your time at Duke.

“We encourage first-years to be themselves and remember the positive values they are bringing from home. What makes Duke special is we attract students from all across the globe with different experiences, backgrounds, identities, ideas and perspectives,” Hale wrote. “Be ready to encounter all of that during Orientation Week as we prepare to ensure you have a great Duke experience.”