The literature for Bulldog Days should probably come with a disclaimer: The things you see this week may or may not be representative of an actual Yale experience. Take this point, for example: Monday is not usually a party night here. And don’t expect the New Haven weather to be 70 degrees and sunny year round.

But Bulldog Days can at least offer a sense of what life is like here — and why, after braving the one-in-10 odds of getting in, you might want to come back in September. You will probably find many things you expected: courses taught by top professors, a vibrant arts scene, an almost overwhelming array of campus groups to suit just about any interest. You will also get a better understanding of the aspects of Yale you cannot quite glean from a viewbook or the Princeton Review: how the food tastes, the size of the average dorm room, what people do in their spare time. And perhaps most importantly, you may get a feeling for what your peers here would be like, both those in the classes above you and other prospective members of the Class of 2009.

Take the opportunity to check out a few things that might not be on the Bulldog Days schedule, too. Ask around and tag along with a current Yalie to a smaller class that isn’t advertised in the material the school gives you. Explore downtown New Haven a little bit. Yale is an urban school, after all, and you can’t become a student here without also becoming a resident of the Elm City. And — just to prove to your friends back home that Yale students do more than just work — don’t be afraid to check out the nightlife, either.

After all that, you are probably still going to have unanswered questions about a place where you might spend the next four years. In this section, we have tried to answer a few of those and also explain why there are picket lines on campus, describe what the Class of 2009 might look like and offer an example of a day in the life of an average Yalie (as if such a person exists). Along with everything else you see and hear in the next few days, we hope these pages help as you decide if you want to go to Yale.

But in the end, for many of us, the reasons we came here are far different from the reasons we love it. You may come to New Haven thinking you are a pre-med, and leave as an English major; you may have acted in high school, but find your passion in intramural inner-tube water polo. So the questions you ask, the classes you audit and the tables you visit at the extracurricular bazaar may not have much relationship to what you actually find once on campus. But hopefully you will get a sense of what makes this University different from other schools — from its location in a vibrant and complicated city like New Haven to its unique residential college system and its focus on undergraduate education — and why, after experiencing what Yale has to offer, we are proud to call this place home.