From the applications, recommendations and deadlines to anticipating that letter in the mail—has led you to this: freshman orientation. Orientation, much like the next 4 years, really and truly is what you make of it. Besides the introductory de rigueur, such as registering for classes, placement tests and building tours, it’s your first chance as an official student to connect with your campus and get a feel for what the next four years have in store.
First things first: do your research. Read (or at least skim) through the orientation packet and familiarize yourself with the seminars, tours, skits and activities. Now that the necessary arrangements have been made, what else is there? Depending on your state of mind, orientation can be a pleasant introduction or, let’s be honest, a huge let-down. But no matter what your personality or outlook, you can benefit from the experience.
The Shy Type
Entering a new and unfamiliar environment can be overwhelming for anyone, but if you’re already shy by nature, orientation can be downright scary. Fear not! Keep in mind that everyone’s in the same boat. They are unsure of what to expect and, most likely, don’t know many people. Part of the fun and excitement of going to college is that you can be whoever you want to be. This is not to say you shouldn’t be yourself. Rather, think of it as an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. Start a conversation with someone in your walking group. Ask where they’re from or what they’re thinking of studying. Meal times can be a little more intimidating. If you’re not totally comfortable with walking up to strangers, find a quiet spot to eat alone and think of it as your chance to soak in your surroundings and absorb all the new information.
The Never-Been-Away-From-Home Type
So you’re flying the coop. Instead of focusing on what you’ll be leaving behind, try to think about what lies ahead: new friends, getting to know a different town, and most of all, being independent. For orientation, opt to stay in the dorms instead of at a hotel with your parents. You’ll be able to share with your fellow newbies what you’re apprehensive about as well as what you’re excited about. It helps to talk out your fears with others who probably have the same ones. Most importantly, when you’re at the campus, try to imagine yourself there: eating lunch at the student center or walking to class with your future roommates. It may seem like a long time now, but you only have four or so years at college; make the most of it as soon as you can.
The Overly Enthused Type
This category is two-fold: First, you’re the Type A frosh who’s already chosen your fall schedule. While it’s smart to be on top of your game, orientation is also about meeting new friends, getting the skinny on extra-curriculars, and finding out the best places to eat on campus. Find another person who also seems enthusiastic and swap what you’ve learned. Or instead of attending yet another department info session, find out who wants to grab lunch at the local eatery.
On the other side of the overly enthused coin is the first year who thinks college is a non-stop party and orientation is nothing more than their first dip into the social pool. You plan on sleeping through class registration and would rather find out where the party is than take a language placement exam. First of all, good luck making it past the first semester, much less to graduation. There’s a reason schools go to such great lengths to have such a structured orientation—doing this on your own isn’t easy! Take advantage of the upperclassmen, faculty, and staff available. Ask questions and acquaint yourself with where everything is. Get your schedule straight. Make sure you’re prepared for your next phase of adulthood. And everyone knows adults have more fun.
The Unenthused Type
Often times the most successful student is the one who makes the most of their situation. Remember that first impressions stick and no one wants to be friends with the person who looks up set that they’re there. Learn about the various organizations, classes that sound interesting and social activities. Every campus has something to offer, as long as you’re open-minded.
You are now properly equipped for whatever the orientation gods may have in store for you. Worst case scenario, you’re underwhelmed with the whole experience. That’s okay. You’re just getting a taste of what’s to come.
What is the purpose of these self-evaluation letters?
The primary purpose of these letters is to encourage Scholars to develop the habit of setting goals, planning to achieve those goals, and evaluating whether or not they have been achieved. In addition, these letters enable the Directors to keep up with what each Scholar is doing on an ongoing basis. Many students have told us that this simple exercise is one of the most beneficial parts of the Terry Scholar Program.
When is it due?
You should send your letter so that it arrives at the Foundation offices no later than June 1 of each year during which you are a Terry Scholar.
Where should it be sent?
The letter should be e-mailed to the Foundation (email@example.com), as a WORD (.doc or .docx) attachment to your e-mail. Note: .pdf attachments are not acceptable.
How should my e-mail be identified?
Label your transmitting e-mail in the subject line:
YOUR NAME 200X Self-Evaluation Letter
(i.e. – JANE SMITH 2010 Self-Evaluation Letter)
How can I confirm that the Foundation has received my letter?
You will receive from Ms. Freeman a return e-mail confirming the receipt of your letter. If you do not receive this confirmation within 24 hours (M-F), please follow-up to ensure that your letter was received.
How should my letter be identified?
It is very important that you place at the top of each page of your letter your full name, your permanent home address, the first year that you were a Terry Scholar, the university you are attending, and the date. Letters without the proper identification will not be accepted and will be returned.
Permanent Home Address
City, State & Zip Code
200__ Scholar - ________ (Name of University)
June, 200__ Self-Evaluation Letter
What should my letter contain?
Generally, the letter should set some specific goals for the coming year (both academic and non-academic), and outline how you intend to meet the goals. In addition, if this is not the first such letter you have written, you should review the goals you set in your previous letter and candidly evaluate how well you achieved those goals. Many students describe the activities they participated in during the school year and also tell us about awards they received or leadership activities in which they were involved. Some also tell us a little about their summer plans.
What should not be in a self-evaluation letter?
Please do not put in your self-evaluation letter information about changed financial circumstances or scholarships that have been supplemented or lost. These types of communications should be sent to Beth Freeman (firstname.lastname@example.org) in a separate e-mail.
Also, do not include in your letter changes of address or telephone numbers. To notify the Foundation of address or telephone changes, locate your Scholar profile in the “For Scholars Only” section of the web site and update the appropriate data fields with your new information.
How long should my self-evaluation letter be?
There is no required length, as the length of the letter may depend upon the number of individual goals and each student’s writing style. However, our experience reflects that the requirements described above can rarely be met in less than 2-3 pages.
Do not write lengthy essays or submit letters longer than 3 pages. You should organize your thoughts and strive to be as concise as possible.
Is any particular format required?
Letters must be double spaced and submitted as a WORD (.doc or .docx) attachment to your e-mail. We also request that you reread and proof your letter before sending it.
Are graduating seniors required to submit a letter?
No. Although graduating seniors (or Scholars who have completed the program’s eight semesters of funding) are not required to submit a self-evaluation letter, the Terrys and Directors certainly enjoy hearing from you. We invite you to submit a letter to keep us updated with the achievement of your goals and/or future plans.
Will I receive a response to my letter?
All of the letters are read by the Directors. Because of the large number of letters that are received, however, it is not possible to generate a specific reply to each letter. The Directors occasionally send written comments to students about their self-evaluation letters, but if you do not receive a response, it is not because your letter is not being read.
When you submit your self-evaluation letter, the receipt of your letter will be acknowledged by e-mail within 24 hours (M-F). If you have received no response within that time, re-submit your transmitting e-mail or call the Foundation offices to confirm that your letter was received.
Self-evaluation letter checklist: before you send, be sure your letter:
a) has your name, address, and Scholar year in the heading on each page (See #6 above).
b) has been double-spaced & proofed.
c) has your name in the subject line of your transmitting e-mail (See #4 above).