Yesterday afternoon, as you, the students admitted to the class of 2014, were arriving on campus, Katy Grannan ART ’99 gave a lecture about photography. During her talk, she explained that part of making great pictures is learning to “embrace the uncertainty of it all.”
Many of you have come to Yale to make a big decision. We watched yesterday as you walked around Yale, recognizable with your blue folders in hand. By nightfall, you had found your hosts on Old Campus, then left to meet faculty, watch bands battle, debaters discuss and editors edit. Today, you wake up to do it all over again.
But we have found Yale to be anything but repetitive, and we hope you will use the next 48 hours to take Grannan’s words to heart and embrace the uncertainty of this campus. The best events of Bulldog Days are those that do not appear on a schedule, those we do not expect but that often provide the most formative moments in our college life. So sit and chat with people you meet on Old Campus, ride the swing in the Branford courtyard or help your hosts put off work by singing Taylor Swift in a common room with them. Embracing uncertainty is as good a way to discover Yale as trying to attend every event on the calendar.
At the extracurricular bazaar this afternoon, and throughout your time on campus, current students will do their best to explain exactly why their major, their club or their singing group has made their Yale experience. And classes and activities do, in large part, mold our day to day life here. But look closely at the results of our survey, reported on page one of today’s News. More than the funding Yale provides, the facilities each residential college basement holds or the quality of food in each dining hall, we find ourselves most affected by the classmates who share that funding, use those facilities and sit with us in those dining halls. We have a community here to call our own, in our residential colleges, in our extracurricular activities, in our classes and even in those we pass on Cross Campus, and it is a student body unlike any other. It is this factor, the student body, that convinced students across all 12 residential colleges to give their entire Yale experience a high rating.
Of course, we think you should go to classes, dances and fairs. We want you to enjoy the food. We want you to join the News.
But above all, we urge you to turn to those sitting next to you in a lecture or the dining hall — both current undergraduates and your future classmates. Engage them in conversation. Realize that they will share your interests and passions in a way your high school classmates may not have, but also that they will bring backgrounds and life stories to the conversation that you never imagined.
When we think back to Bulldog Days and our time at Yale that’s followed, our activities and classes have been important, but we remember them for the people that joined us in them. So enjoy Bulldog Days, look forward to a great four years and a life of friendships started here. More than any song or flashy dance, these friendships are why we chose Yale.