Thursday, August 23, 2007

Duke Ducklings

As many of you have likely been reminded by other blogs, the start of a new academic year is approaching. Things are certainly picking up on Duke's campus and the excitement is building. Campus eateries are reopening after a long summer or after shorter periods of renovations and more and more people are filling the sidewalks.

Freshman moved started moving in on Tuesday and upperclassmen have already started returning. FACs (Freshman Advising Counselors) are leading around freshmen like herds of baby ducklings. I was in line at the Pauly Dogs stand, ordering my 3rd and 4th veggie hot dogs since the reopening, as a herd went by with an FAC proclaiming, "and THIS is Pauly Dogs," as if the stand were an ancient reliquary. The kids just looked in awe as they continued walking and I couldn't help but smile in amusement.

It's been eleven long years since I was bouncing from first year orientation event to orientation event. I never lived on campus, so I had a very different experience. I, however, effectively grew up on the campus, so I also never had the same feelings associated with being in a new place far away from home. So many faculty and staff on campus already knew me. I did have the same challenges of making new friends and adjusting to a new academic environment and that was plenty.

There are two things that I was told my freshman year that I remember as being so pertinent that it's worth sharing in case there are any fledgling freshman readers out there:

  1. "Remember, you're supposed to be having fun."
  2. "You're on a new bell curve now."
I doubt the first one will be a problem for too many students, but I took studying way too seriously, particularly in my first year. I remember being distressed when I was a single day behind in reading for one of my courses. That became laughable in later years as the work load became greater and greater. The second is extremely important, because I think many Duke students forget that they are no longer being compared to their high school, but to some of the brightest students in the world. Even being a mediocre student at Duke is something special.

Now, working as staff, probably less than a quarter of mile from where I was born, I get to see just how many technical support balls I can keep in the air as so many of us arrange the virtual logistics for each student's academic odysseys.

1 comment:

  1. I saw armies of the first-years (I guess "freshmen" is a bad word) by ATC, off on their scavenger hunt. I wanted to scream, because I thought I was "safe" from them all the way out in scary downtown. I hope the FACs showed them where all the bail bondsmen are downtown, cuz ya never know when you might need one.

    You are right; Duke students don't really need to be reminded to "have fun". They will. Maybe one or two out of the 1700 need the advice.

    They'll blackout a hundred times over the next four years and still wind up at top medical and law schools. Even the few who are falsely accused of raping a stripper will still land six-figure jobs at Manhattan investment firms after they graduate.

    (I thought your blog needed a little more controversy. Your subject makes all the Duke students sounds so cute and cuddly).

    If you want to know why I'm so bitter (actually, I think YOU know, but anyway), check out Toastie '97. There's some shameless self-promotion on my part...