Work was piling up, midterms were around the corner, and of course there was always rugby practice. The last thing Branford College freshman counselor Regina Fitzpatrick ’01 needed was ‘N Sync reverberating through the B entryway of Vanderbilt Hall.
Fitzpatrick prepared to mount the stairs and quell the disturbance. But her counselees came bounding down the stairs and whisked Fitzpatrick to their room, where they treated her to a full rendition of an ‘N Sync dance routine with musical accompaniment.
“It was so refreshing,” Fitzpatrick said. “For [freshmen] it’s still one big slumber party.”
Fitzpatrick is one of more than 90 freshman counselors who get the refreshing experience of introducing a class of more than 1,300 freshmen to Yale annually. Freshman counselors advise anywhere from eight to 25 freshmen, inhabiting the same entryways and assisting them in their social, academic and extracurricular endeavors in their first year. Applications are due at the end of the month for juniors applying to lead the class of 2005.
Applicants have to submit a personal statement and resume to their dean’s office. From there, each residential college has its own process for selection that can include interviews with the dean, master and present freshman counselors.
Once accepted, freshman counselors receive up to a $2,500 discount on room and board each semester.
The prestige of the program varies from college to college. In Ezra Stiles College, more than 30 students on average apply for the position. In Branford College, last year’s applicant pool was considerably smaller.
Fitzpatrick said small applicant pools may result from poor advertising or the fact that seniors may not want to move away from newly renovated colleges.
The University finished renovations on Branford this year.
“I think a lot of people didn’t want to sacrifice moving back to the new Branford,” Fitzpatrick said.
Most residential colleges have six residential freshman counselors and one ethnic freshman counselor, who sometimes aids students from other colleges. Timothy Dwight and Silliman colleges have 11 and 13 freshman counselors respectively to provide counselees — who do not live on Old Campus — with more individual attention.
The exceptional attention Ezra Stiles freshman counselor Linda Summerville ’01 received from her counselor motivated her to return the favor and apply last year.
“[My freshman counselor] was really helpful and supportive and was real open and present all the time,” Summerville said. “I wanted to help the new class to like Stiles a lot too.”
Applicant Andy Beck ’02 from Ezra Stiles also hopes to assist incoming freshmen in the transition to a collegiate environment.
“[Being a freshman counselor] is one of the most rewarding things you can do while at Yale,” Beck said. “It’s a nice position to be in to be able to help incoming students grow in pride for their residential college and adapt to college life.”
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