What is a Big Red?

First-Year Experience Orientation Programs
July 13, 2016

Emma Ceplinskas is a member of the Denison class of 2020. She shares her musings from her June Orientation session here.

“Wait, so you’ve never actually seen the college you’re going to?” I was asked this question all the time when talking with friends or family about college. Yes, I made the decision to attend Denison University for the next four years — a school I wouldn’t visit until June Orientation.

The follow-up question would be something along the lines of, “Well then how did you know it was the right choice for you?” My time spent talking with Denison faculty and students made the decision for me. A small liberal arts school with a focus on fostering a well-rounded education for its students was what I looked for in a school and Denison professors and students confirmed that these ideals were upheld on The Hill.

I had accepted Denison, however I was unsure of how Denison would accept me for the first time on June 16, during my June Orientation session.

Arriving at campus the night before the official start to June-O, I drive up to The Hill — might I mention what seemed to be the only hill in all of Ohio — in the cool twilight. Closing my eyes, I can still see the illuminated brick buildings, flashes of fireflies, and feel wisps of the summer night breeze that caused goose bumps to rush across my skin.

My goose bumps lasted until the start of the next morning, when other students arrived and fear crept its way into my thoughts. Would the students like me? Would I like them? Should I say hi? Where’s the first meeting? What’s a Big Red? All these questions tumbling around my head distracted me from engaging in the student and faculty speeches. In an auditorium full of unfamiliar faces I searched for a reason as to why I chose to go to a school that’s a 12-hour drive away from the comforts of my hometown of Boston.

The day lingered on as students and parents were corralled from building to building for different informative workshops. I made small talk with some students but was yet to be reassured in my decision. It wasn’t until June-O staff, recently graduated or current students, presented their personal experiences at Denison that my mind was put at ease. They spoke of their initial trials and tribulations with adjusting to their new surroundings. But they grew to call Denison home, so wouldn’t I, along with my new 600 some odd classmates?

Worrying about how I’d be perceived wouldn’t help my case. It was better to just be myself rather than be too scared to open up. The remainder of the day consisted of several more workshops and sifting through a thicket of classes to choose from before the Hunger Games that is registration. But it was all the more enjoyable since I wasn’t obsessing over every move I made and its possible implications.

I left June-O the next day with a full schedule, free of 8 a.m. classes, eager for my next four years on The Hill.