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The Carletonian

New Student Week reflections

On Tuesday, Sep. 5, Carleton College welcomed 545 students as part of the class of 2027. For nearly a week, students joined New Student Week groups to acclimate to the Carleton atmosphere. 


As a first-year from Texas, I was quite nervous about adapting to the Carleton culture. New Student Week (NSW) proved to be an exciting (and at times overwhelming!) experience, but overall I made some phenomenal friends through the experience. That being said, there are some aspects of NSW that I found to be especially notable, whether it be for good or bad. 


Let’s start with move-in day. With the campus currently under construction, it clearly struggled to support the massive influx of students and their families. I, being the person I am, decided to show up around twenty minutes before move-in officially started. As it turns out, this was a good decision to make. Even before I was supposed to move in, parking was already filling up. 


To give credit to Carleton, the loading and unloading stations proved to be fairly efficient, at least from what I saw. Student athletes who were already on campus for fall training helped load my heavy items onto carts and led them to my room. The help was much appreciated, although the number of carts was very limited, and one literally crumbled while we were hauling my belongings to my room. 


I did not attend most of the move-in day programming because I instead wanted to get settled into my room, and quite frankly, I don’t think I missed much. All of the information and resources displayed during move-in day were reviewed and discussed later in the week. 


In the afternoon, the mandatory programming began, starting with a series of icebreakers in our NSW groups. Quite frankly, these went about as you would expect. There were awkward moments, but generally, everyone I met was enthusiastic to get to know each other. After the traditional frisbee toss, we ended the day eating with our groups. I would say it was a successful day. 


Secondly, there were a series of hour-long meetings that we were required to attend. The next few days of NSW were a blur of CarlTalks and lectures about policies and rules. Before arriving on campus, all students had to take a series of virtual courses about alcohol and cannabis use, consent and creating an inclusive environment. These online courses were long and boring, including optional surveys that would have to be filled out before every module. If these online courses were our only introduction to these topics, I would have been fine completing them. My issue is that we then spent large amounts of time going through the information a second time, wasting time when we could actually learn more about the Carleton experience instead of hearing repeated information.


This isn’t to say that all the programming was bad. Most of the CarlTalks included peer leaders sharing their experiences as Carleton students, which I found quite valuable. I also really valued the discussions on how to prevent burnout and promote mental well-being on campus. The peer leaders who spoke about their own struggles with overworking and finding community in college were a reassuring reminder that the many mixed emotions that come with moving to college are normal. Overall, my main issue with the CarlTalks wasn’t the content itself, it was how it repeated information from the online courses we had to take before arriving on campus. 


Lastly, I greatly enjoyed the long-standing NSW tradition of the Nolympics. After solely interacting with my NSW group for most of the week, I had a good time meeting the people on my floor for Nolympics. My floor decided to be a hodgepodge of ideas. Our official theme was Plants vs. Zombies, but we quickly grew to include a Nicki Minaj flag, a slight essence of Pitbull, and a mini skeleton that I brought from home. 


In my opinion, Nolympics perfectly encapsulates the Carleton experience. Quirky and witty students from all walks of life join together to have fun with each other, all unafraid to show what they find entertaining and never afraid to have fun. 


The general structure of NSW was beneficial for me. I was able to become close with my NSW group through the built-in meal times together. Even after the first day, I felt connected to my peers. With roughly 500 peers, I felt overwhelmed by the idea of finding friends, but being put into a group of around 15 people let me acclimate quickly. As the week went on, I found friends outside of my NSW group through my roommate and friends of friends, which made my social circle quite large in a short period of time.


And with that, classes began on September 11. The week was busy with new friends, lots of information and a large amount of community building. Sure, there were moments of lectures that felt unnecessary, but overall I think that the NSW programming properly prepared me for life as a Carleton student, and helped me foster relationships with my peers. 


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