Your guide to NSOP small talk

Welcome, class of 2018!

Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Welcome to Columbia. You’ve finally made it through high school, likely feeling like a nerd, and you have finally landed in an environment in which the nerds reign supreme! Here is some advice from a friendly neighborhood senior, in list and chart form, on how to navigate this crazy week.

The agony and the ecstasy of NSOP is the countless meeting of people. Have a monologue prepared so you’ll be ready to introduce yourself in countless contexts.

Introductory Monologue Checklist

  • Name: Do you go by a nickname? Do you want to take this fresh start opportunity to go by a cooler name, something like “Axel” or “Hydrangea”? Now’s your chance!

  • Hometown: By the way, when you say “New York,” we know you really mean “Westchester,” and by “D.C.,” you mean “Virginia.”

  • Prospective Major: Majors inevitably change at least once, but ballpark it so people can gauge what you’re interested in. When in doubt, say American studies because it is interdisciplinary.

  • Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Also indicative of your personality. A great opportunity to demonstrate that you are pop culture savvy if you say something like Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream or Ben and Jerry’s Liz Lemon Greek Yogurt.

NSOP Dos and Don’ts

Here are some helpful tips for how to carry an effective conversation during NSOP. 

DO: Talk about your extracurricular activities in high school and if you want to join similar clubs here.

DON'T: Recite your résumé and list the various accomplishments that you put on your application. It has officially been rendered irrelevant now that you’re here! This fresh start is a good thing! Look upon this as starting anew.

DO: Talk about World Cup scores.

DON'T: Talk about SAT scores or how you plan to score.

DO: Talk about politics, but only to the extent that people agree with you.

DON'T: Argue your way into a political brawl with your suitemates.

Expectations vs. Reality

It’s important to throw yourself into NSOP with your full energy and enthusiasm, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make this the #BestWeekEver! It is only the first week of four years, so it’s OK if it doesn’t live up to your expectations.

EXPECTATION:“I’ll meet my BFF! They will be the maid of honor or best man at my wedding, if not my spouse!”

REALITY: In four years, you’ll be avoiding these people on College Walk and agonizing about whether it’s weird and random to like their Facebook statuses.

EXPECTATION: “I’m going to wake up early and go to the gym!”

REALITY: You’ll wake up 10 minutes before your first activity.

EXPECTATION: “I’m going to keep my dorm room clean!”

REALITY: Ha, good luck with that.  

Orli Matlow is an American studies major in the School of General Studies and a Canadian comedian. Come and talk to her about musicals, comedies, musical comedies, or Princess Diana conspiracy theories.


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