Welcome, prefrosh. This is Yale. It can be your home for the next four years.
Beginning today, hundreds of you will flood campus for Bulldog Days, Yale’s three-day trial run for admitted students. Bulldog Days is about potential — what Yale could mean for you, and how you might contribute to this University in turn. Most importantly, how will you make Yale your own? Turn that question over in your head as you fall asleep on a common room floor or scribble down notes in a master class.
Spend these days imagining your place here: in a freshman dorm, around a seminar table, on Elm Street with the cars zipping past.
Many of you have already chosen Yale; if so, you’ve decided wisely. Some of you may still be weighing your options. Bulldog Days exists to convince you that Yale comes out on top, which, in many ways, it does.
Needless to say, you’re not in for a typical three days. There aren’t jam sessions and a cappella concerts every hour on the hour. Midnight frisbee is more rare than you might think. Free food doesn’t flow from every corner of campus. Ordinarily, you’ll have to venture farther than Old Campus to find Pepe’s Pizza, New Haven’s finest.
Many of us keep busy schedules, but it’s not typical to find yourself at three improv shows, a YPU debate with a former presidential candidate and a cultural house dance party all in one night. People are friendly, but we don’t normally get bombarded with invitations to dance shows and study breaks as we pass through campus. We spend a lot of time in libraries, especially come finals season. We get stressed. We lose sleep.
What Bulldog Days gets right, though, is the energy of life at Yale, even without the frenetic schedule of events. Students care deeply about their pursuits, whether these fall in the classroom or in one of the countless extracurriculars to which Yalies devote themselves. There is a pulse on campus that doesn’t slow when Bulldog Days concludes.
Life at Yale defies simple explanation. It’s much too big and intricate. It will be up to you, the class of 2019, to define your own experience, alongside peers, professors and administrators. The great privilege, and responsibility, of coming to Yale is getting to decide, for four years, one small part of what this University means, to carry on this project that has been entrusted to us. Maybe you’ll do service work in New Haven, opening new chapters in Yale’s complicated relationship with its home city. Maybe you’ll contribute to groundbreaking scientific research. Or maybe you’ll tell stories about Yale and New Haven in these pages, a pursuit that has defined our time as undergraduates. Yale is changing all the time — if you come here, you will witness an enormous growth in the undergraduate student body with the opening of two new residential colleges. You will change along with Yale.
At its best, Yale challenges us not to settle for what is conventional, not to be satisfied simply going through the motions of getting a degree. Let the same be true for the next three days. Choosing Yale is a big commitment; don’t let the curated experience of Bulldog Days be the sole basis of your decision. You may be inclined to find more concrete grounds — the existence of a particular singing group, or even the strength of your preferred academic department. These things matter, but they’re also transitory, as are your own interests.
Maybe the decision is much more simple. Something about the stained glass of Linsly-Chittenden Hall or the steps up to Sterling should feel right, should make you trust that this place could be your home. Can you picture it? If you can, you’ll figure out the rest, and we’ll see you in August.