NDSU's bison statue as seen during a rain storm.

An Insiders View of Welcome Week

Why You Should Consider Being a Lead

PQ: It’s a perfect opportunity to give back what was given to you upon your own arrival.

Campus is a little hectic right now. The bookstore is jammed, the Union is crowded, and the Wellness Center looks like Planet Fitness after January first. While it’s difficult to navigate some of the normally quieter spaces on campus, I am beyond excited to welcome the new students while returning myself and settling into the title of ‘upperclassman’.

As the semester falls into its steady rhythm and the hubbub dies down, I want to take a moment to reflect on these first two weeks. This year, I had the opportunity to be a Welcome Week Lead, and I have walked away feeling that it is one of the most rewarding service activities I have ever been a part of.

Did some students brush me and the other lead off? Yes, but only a few. Did some moments feel awkward and uninteresting? Here and there. Did I sometimes feel like I was trying to be the cool and relatable dad but failing miserably? Most definitely. But, in the end, most of my first-year students returned for all three days and were engaged in the material.

Why be a Lead?

Think back on your first day on campus. What sorts of thoughts were running through your head? Maybe you were excited to finally do your own thing, and you felt being dragged to Welcome Week meetings was a waste of your time.

But maybe you were terrified you weren’t going to make any friends. Maybe you were confused about books, Blackboard, and how to log into the internet. Lord knows I’m still confused with those things some days, especially when they decide to update Blackboard out of nowhere in the middle of a semester and the bookstore website spontaneously at the end of the summer, right when everyone needs to order books.

Anyhow, we are all constantly having to learn how to navigate new experiences. With life-changing so quickly before our eyes, it is so easy to feel like you are in it alone. Goodness, the transition to college isn’t all we have to deal with either.

We have to all start our adult lives with some of the highest inflation rates and gas prices in U.S. history. There’s another war happening across the seas, and we aren’t sure how we will be affected long-term. Are we about to have our student loans forgiven?

If there’s a working shortage and so many jobs, why can we make more money at a McDonald’s than somewhere where our education can be applied? Everyone has a different opinion on how Monkeypox is spread, and I don’t want to spend another school year inside.

These are just some of the things going on right now, and after just writing single sentences on them, I swear I can feel my cortisol rising.

The point is, even though I didn’t participate as much as I wish I did in Welcome Week activities last year, I appreciate those who establish and organize it all year. It’s such an overlooked opportunity to find your place on campus in the midst of what can truthfully be a stressful existence.

I personally became a Lead because I admired the mission of helping new students navigate campus and make a successful transition into college life. I think anyone capable should give it a chance. It’s a perfect opportunity to give back what was given to you upon your own arrival.
What does being a Lead entail?

Being a Lead is a little bit of a time commitment if you’re someone who is super protective of their weekend hours. However, it is one weekend of your life, and you’ll leave with a handful of fresh faces to wave to on campus.

This year’s training was held all day, the Thursday before freshman move-in day. We had Friday to ourselves to prepare, take care of our own needs, be sure we had groceries before school started, or work just one more twelve-hour shift of a new job we weren’t sure if we liked yet…
Note for the freshmen: please develop better time management skills and boundaries than what some of us did our freshman year.

Saturday, freshmen move-in day, is really what you make it. You can volunteer to also be a part of Move-In Crew or take the extra time to yourself until the first meetings.
Our first meeting, events, and dinner began in rotations at three in the afternoon until 7:45 pm. This meeting included the RA of our groups and was just about introducing ourselves to each other. The RA laid down some ground rules for living on campus. Then, we all headed over to Saturday Night Live.

My group’s RA was more entertaining than I was to listen to, so the freshmen were all kind of bummed when it was just the other lead and I who picked them up on Sunday. But they get to live with her all year, so I didn’t feel too bad about making them deal with me for just two more days.

Sunday’s commitment was not too big, either. I didn’t have much time to go to the church I would normally go to, so I took the opportunity to go with my roommate to the Catholic church down the street and attend my first ever catholic mass. We got back with half an hour left to spare before I had to check-in.

We had another group meeting, lunch, and event, and Monday looked about the same. Really, you’re only looking at a nine-hour total commitment to your group over the course of three days. Whatever else you put into it, extra connections, hangouts, etc., are completely up to you.

What to expect when leading a group

Not all of your floor/hall will show up the first day, and those who came the first day will not always be there the next two days. This is the tough reality, but it often has nothing to do with you. Some students have previous commitments, haven’t moved in yet for various reasons, attend a church off campus, or are overwhelmed by all of the social interaction that happens during the first weekend of Welcome Week.

There truly were some freshmen in other groups I talked to who were very overwhelmed by the amount of coerced social interaction at each event.

No matter what happens, though, it is important to remember why Welcome Week exists and what role you are playing in the lives of new students on campus. Most of what I did was follow the material for our group activities and answer questions that arose.

The material was well designed to answer many of the questions first-year students have, but you also just draw from your own experiences learned on campus: How do I get involved? Where do I find out what’s happening on campus? How do I log into the Wi-Fi? How do I get into Blackboard?
How long should I wait to buy books?


The truth about being a Lead is: You only get out what you put in: YOGOWYPI.

If you think back to your own Welcome Week weekend, you may remember the YOGOWYPI presentation from the last day of the weekend. I didn’t make it to the last day of my first year, and I never got to see this presentation until I took my own group there.

In case you never made it to this strangely named presentation with the very energetic clapping man, I’ll fill you in.

Bill Cordes was the name of the speaker, and he began his presentation in a very engaging way. To make sure we were all focused on him and what he was saying as he spoke, we had to watch his hands and try to clap at the same sudden moment that he did.

For those who care about/will have to be a part of some sort of public speaking in your profession through school and after you graduate, this simple clapping technique was very effective in keeping everyone one hundred percent focused.

He went on to explain his own life experience. His family had expected him to go to college, so he did, but he didn’t necessarily end up liking what his degree had led him to do in life.

Rather than sticking it out and showing up to do the bare minimum at a job he didn’t care for, he sought out something meaningful. He found something that he could pour hours into and see the return.
He told us all that we could show up to class, do our homework, and get our degrees. We could do the bare minimum and certainly, get by. But his point was, why just get by?

The more effort you put into your life, the more you get out of it. Join organizations, go to events, and connect with other people. The more people you know, the more doors open to you.

This message was being given to the first-year students, but it resonated very well with me, too. Maybe it was just the vibrations in the room from the speaker making us clap our hands so many times, but I’m convinced it was more than that.

Final Thoughts

Doing these activities on campus and serving others takes some of your time. Maybe you’re only doing these things to build your resume or to meet the volunteer hours for your sorority/fraternity or other student organization. Maybe it will help you get more scholarship money.

Whatever your reasons for choosing to be a Lead or really part of any group on campus, be fully present in what you are doing and give it your best shot. In a fast-paced world focused on self-achievement, taking the time to slow down and serve your community and connect with others is a really wonderful and rewarding thing.

I am thankful that being a Lead gave me the opportunity to see and be a part of some of the things that I didn’t go do last year when I first got here. The presentations were awesome; I got to walk through the gates and high-five the new President with my freshmen. But I am most thankful for the opportunity to help others feel comfortable and prepared for life here at NDSU.

There are also at least twenty more NDSU students I know on campus now, too. They each have their own lives, backstories, and interests, and I am so excited to have been a part of getting to know these students who are going to be contributing to the culture here at NDSU.

So, go be a Lead, and if that really doesn’t sound like it’s for you, MyNDSU has at least 300 organizations that you should consider. College and life are stressful, and having others to connect with makes all the difference!

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