As my dad’s car pulled up to the iron gates, expectations of freshman orientation at SJU flooded my mind. I imagined the dreaded mingling, with the awkward tension in the air fueled by the pressure of first impressions and nervously strung together sentences. While this image was consistent with reality for the first twenty minutes or so, I watched the groups of new Johnnies, including mine, quickly become more comfortable with each other through icebreakers, hilarious talent show performances, and an all-night dance party. Gone was the judgmental and competitive vibe of high school, often driven by pubescent insecurities, and instead, genuine excitement to start anew filled the prospective students. With this new mindset, it was easy to see all of the vast opportunities that St. John’s offered, rapidly adding to my growing excitement and list of 11 reasons why I can’t wait to start at SJU!
1. Exploring NYC.
Metropolitan is one of the four main pillars that describe the school’s mission. Since SJU is a university that houses campuses in the metropolitan area, it encourages students to take advantage of the city’s sites and internship opportunities. Pro Tip: the school’s concierge service provides free or reduced pricing on tickets to museums, musicals, basketball games and more! As if spending free time in the Big Apple isn’t appealing alone, students can receive college credit for these explorations; all freshmen take the Discover New York course, where a professor focuses on one specific area of study and applies that topic to a hands-on approach to learning by touring students through the streets of New York and immersing them in the city’s culture.
2. Traveling abroad.
Another pillar, Global, stresses the importance of participating in experiences abroad and acting on chances to increase one’s knowledge of the world. St. John’s offers numerous opportunities to learn beyond the New York classrooms through programs such as the Global Passport (for $500, freshmen can take one of their core classes at the Rome or Paris campus), Semester Abroad (students spend the fall or spring semester taking classes and day trips to tourist sites), and so much more. Taking classes or completing internships overseas are exciting opportunities to not only boost one’s resume, but also gain valuable skills like learning a new language or being able to navigate a foreign place on your own.
The final two pillars, Catholic and Vincentian, refer to the university’s focus on faith and service, open to people of all or no faiths. After seeing St. Thomas More Church’s towering stain glass windows and peaceful fountain, it is impossible to not want to get involved in all of the church’s activities and events. Some of these events include: the plunge program (which places students in communities located in New York, Pennsylvania and California to gain hands-on learning experience about the struggles of those in poverty and other disadvantaged situations), Midnight Runs to feed the homeless, local soup kitchens volunteer groups and events supporting the Ronald McDonald House, to name just a few.
4. Working with the faculty and staff.
One thing that St. John’s is particularly known for is hiring professors who work in the field that they currently teach or who have accumulated a vast number of connections during their careers. Therefore, cultivating strong relationships with many different professors could open the doors to research opportunities, internships, and the chance to gain new perspectives on learning and life in general.
5. Joining a ton of clubs.
With over 130 clubs available on campus, it seems pretty impossible for a student to start at SJU and not find his or her niche on campus. Between fraternities and sororities, poetry club, theatre and choir groups, Habitat for Humanity, newspaper club, ethic/cultural groups, earth club, jazz band, and writing for SOCIETY19, there are plenty of ways to get involved and meet new people.
6. Participating in campus activities.
Kicking off with orientation sessions (featuring a talent show, dance party, and trivia game show), the activities on campus not only bring out the little kid in students of all ages, it also demonstrates the SJU spirit of being encouraging and inclusive to one another. Beyond the two-day welcome to the university, future Johnnies can look forward to the Red Carpet Welcome (month-long series of events for freshman), family weekend and the spring and winter carnivals (full of food, prizes, dancing, and yes, even rides).
7. Attending basketball games.
If you ask anyone on campus where a freshman can go to view the largest display of school spirit, the answer will inevitably be: the basketball games. Adorned in SJU themed gear, banners and face paint, underclassmen and upperclassmen can be seen cheering on the team in the Carnesecca Arena and even the away games. We are New York’s team…we are St. John’s!
8. Visiting the Career Center.
In the midst of all the excitement with sports games, club meetings and campus activities, the Career Center may seem like the least desirable place to be during your start at SJU. However, it seems that taking advantage of all of the opportunities the center offers early on is the best option for students. Resume building services, mock interviews, etiquette classes and internship and co-op search engines are only some of the ways students can get a jumpstart on their future careers.
9. All the food!
Cold Stone down the street from campus, Starbuck’s and Dunkin Donuts on campus, authentic Manhattan pizza just a short bus ride away…boy, SJU sure does make it difficult to keep off that dreaded Freshman 15. With access to one-step-above-your-high-school’s-cafeteria Monty’s, three different food courts, a marketplace, a frozen yogurt and smoothie café, Red Storm diner and terrace grill, it is impossible to go hungry during the next four years.
10. Joining honors programs and other societies.
Coming from a public school in a small town in South Jersey, my high school’s advanced academic programs and National Honors Society were competitive and divisive and therefore, at times, brought the worst out in all of us. However, upon being placed in an all-honors orientation group (shout out to Group 7 get lucky!), I discovered that St. John’s Honors program and other academic societies are nothing like what I experienced before. Supportive, multi-talented and genuinely focused on education and growth, the Honors program is something I look forward to participating in my start at SJU. From trips into NYC for museums and shows to meetings and service trips as a group, the Honors program breeds not only a path to educational enrichment, but also a path to creating a family dynamic as Honors kids.
11. Making all the mistakes that a freshman should make.
As a newbie on campus, I can’t wait to wear an embarrassing amount of SJU gear, including the lanyard, until I realize that no one else is wearing it. I’m excited to get lost on the way to class and have to ask someone for directions, to say something incredibly humiliating during icebreaker games, to lock myself out of my dorm and have to take the walk of shame down to the check-in desk on the first floor, and to switch my major…the first time…and the second time…and add a minor or two.
Being a freshman is intimidating, daunting, and even a little terrifying, but also unbelievably exciting, and that is why I cannot wait to start at SJU in the Fall.