While you’re here, seize the day, Bulldog style

Today the prefrosh descend upon us. We can tell by the semi-paradoxical preponderance of both parents and Monday night frat parties. For all of you who are trying to decide whether this is the place for you, we’ll warn you that two days is not nearly long enough to experience Yale — even four years might leave you with items still on your to-do list. But if you consider Bulldog Days less as a time to examine Yale culture under a microscope and more as a time to actually immerse yourself in that culture, you’ll leave with a good feeling of what it’s actually like to live and learn here.

While you’re here, engage your hosts. We’ve all had prefrosh and know there are two types. There are the kind who ask their hosts questions and demand to be taken to events and classes that interest them. And then there are the kind who sit there bashfully and let themselves be dragged around wide-eyed and speechless. As hosts, we much prefer the prefrosh who are active and interested, and you’ll have a better experience if you act that way. Be a part of real student life. Sure, go to parties and concerts and the activities bazaar, but also go to classes and sit outside and get to know the people you’ll meet. Put your fears about living in New Haven to rest by actually experiencing a little bit of what the city has to offer. Do the things students at Yale actually do on a day-to-day basis. There will, of course, be the standard panels on academics, extracurricular life and more. But listening to someone tell you what it’s like to be a part of student life here isn’t nearly important as actually becoming a part of it, if only for two days.

In truth, Yale cannot be as clearly delineated as those series of panels might make it seem. One of the wonderful things about Yale is how seamlessly academics, extracurriculars and social activities fit together. Just sit out on Old Campus today and look. Students playing frisbee, doing reading, and talking — about some latest debauchery, some about a tough assignment — are standards. Listen to a student talk about an incredible lecture topic on the way to an intramural sporting event or watch a student have coffee with a professor. Today is a normal school day for the rest of us. What you see today is very much the Yale you’ll find in September.

Minus the work of course. We remember our own Bulldog Days experiences, in the days before we got B’s, before we considered a 10-page paper a short assignment. Once you actually get here, there will, of course, be work. For everything else Yale is, it’s also an incredible place to get an education. Even if you attend classes, which we strongly recommend, it won’t reflect how much the University does care about its undergraduates. The professors and the ways they engage students are defining features of a Yale education, and ones you may not get to experience in a 48-hour visit.

Whether you enjoy the class you attend or the performance you watch, however, is probably less important than the overall feel you get from the students. Get to know your fellow prefrosh. Get to know the current Yale students. Are these the people you’d like to spend the next four years around? The students holding gates open for you or walking you to the classes you can’t find aren’t anomalies. While most of us have forgotten what exactly we did during Bulldog Days we remember being astonished at how genuinely happy the students looked, how much they raved about this school.

Of course, there are lots of good schools and Yale may not be the place for you. But you have to go with your gut. Look around you. Do the students look happy to be here? We certainly are.

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