Mandy Campbell looks closely at the nation-wide Fresher's Week.
Freshers' Week in any college is a high-energy week, packed with exciting activities and great opportunities. The people that you meet in college during Freshers' Week stand a great chance of still being by your side when you graduate. It's the perfect time to speak to new people and meet groups with like-minded interests. However, who's to say that they have to be first years only? Does it have to be called 'Freshers' Week?
This week is full of events that appeal to students from other years, not just first years. This broadens the sense of community throughout the college. A typical student starting their first year of university are, more than likely, already feeling like a fish out of water. Most have gone from being the eldest in secondary school to starting at the bottom of the ladder again, in a new environment with different rules and ethics. Why should we make them feel more separated than they already do? If anything, it's good that events such as club nights are open to all years so at least Jane from 1st Year Economics knows she has a friend in 3rd Year Political Science. If fresher's week events continued to be welcoming towards other years rather than just first year, it will help the college atmosphere and overall reputation of the college in question.
There is also a lot of wisdom to be found in making Fresher's Week all-inclusive. As an aid to students who are just starting college, universities often hold talks and/or lectures in order to educate freshmen on how to study, what to expect from their first year etc. However, this can feel very formal and often make a student more anxious or stressed than they were before. It's common to feel like you're 'doing it wrong' when you're in first year and lectures such as these will add to that feeling of there being a certain 'way' of doing things. They can be helpful, but this is where integration with other years comes in handy. Informal settings such as bars can provide first years with a comfortable space to talk to both their fellow peers and other years. A fourth year would have much more wisdom to impart to incoming students on their experiences and would have some interesting anecdotes that would make a new university student feel more relaxed about their experience, which makes opening up fresher's week to all years a good learning curve for new students.
Overall, Fresher's Week is a fun week for every college student, and we should continue to keep it that way. As well as not wanting to separate first years from the rest of the university, it’s a good chance for first years to gain some knowledge on university from another student's point of view. Furthermore, it gets other years ready for the new college year by getting them re-accustomed to college life and their respective campus. Including everybody in this hectic week adds to the exciting atmosphere on campus and makes a fantastic period that everyone continues to enjoy.
Finally, it goes without saying that Fresher's Week is a time to relax and destress for the other years before being plunged back into work. It gives them one week to let loose and get back into the swing of things before lectures officially start, to travel into their college again and get used to their surroundings before only seeing lecture halls for a year. As well as education, college is a great time to grow and develop, to find new hobbies and interests. Why should we exclude other years from that?
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