1. Get Dean’s List Your First Year
Set your standards high from the get go.
Your first semester at Mason should be your easiest. Chances are unless you cashed in those AP, IB or AICE credits, you’re facing 15 weeks of easy level 100 classes (minus CS and Engineering classes). Don’t mess around. Have your fun AFTER you submit that paper on Blackboard. Remember what you’re here for in the first place, your education. Plus, Dean’s list looks pretty damn good on your LinkedIn page.
Tip: Do your work in-between classes or during the week. Best places to get shit done are alone in the JC Library or Fenwick. If you work well in your dorm/off-campus room, then do that but, try your best to focus and get shit done. Weekends at Mason don’t start until Thursday anyways. Again, don’t fuck up. Its only uphill after this.
2. Join The Patriot Platoon
Don’t be a deadbeat Mason Patriot. Mason is a young university, we aren’t even 50 years old yet (Operating as an independent institution since April 1972) so our sense of school spirit hasn’t been fully solidified yet. Joining an organization that attends games, promotes school spirit and supports athletics is a good way to really get that well rounded college experience. It isn’t all just cheap booze and hard work in the lecture hall — games are a huge part of being a college kid. Part of making games fun is being fun so don’t be a quiet fuck — be loud dammit!
CLICK HERE TO JOIN ($20/year but its worth it)
But we don’t have football wah wah! Yeah, we don’t have a NCAA football program but, again we’re a young university. For example, JMU, established in 1908, didn’t get their football team until we became an independent institution (that’s 68 years). Give it time and embrace what we have now. Our basketball team isn’t historically bad. We have a new coach, Dave Paulsen, and we are one of three Virginia schools to have a Final Four run (VCU, UVA and Mason). Mason’s soccer teams (both men’s and women’s) are pretty good too, our women’s team won the NCAA Championship beating the UNC Tar Heels back in the 80s and our Men’s team has most recently won the 2013 A-10 Championship making it to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament and producing professional players like MLS NE Revolution signee Timi Mulgrew.
If you complain about Mason lacking school spirit and a live student section but, don’t go to games, then you’re not part of the solution. Sign up, get awesome perks, go to games and hopefully we have an amazing season.
3. The Obligatory Trip To DC
Being in the Northern Virginia suburb of Fairfax, we have easy access to DC. Take the Metro, the closest station, Vienna-GMU, even has our name on it so it’s must. There are tons of concerts, especially during the Fall/Winter, and if you’re local or not, site seeing is a must too.
I recommend going during the day leaving around 10am on a weekend and spending the full day in DC and topping it off with a stop by the National Mall or Georgetown to enjoy the sunset. Poop before leaving and avoid laxative-like foods though — clean bathrooms are hard to find in the city (just trust us on this one).
Mason shuttles, a Mason-run transit system, and CUE buses, the public transit of the city of Fairfax, are free for Mason students — just make sure you have your student ID.
4. Look for Internships Now
It doesn’t hurt to start looking now. You go to school in an area teeming with Fortune 500 companies and DC is just up the road (refer to #3). There is bound to be something here for you. If you don’t have experience now, thats fine, at least you know where to look once you feel like you can take on the internship. If you’re a Volgenau School of Engineering or a College of Science student, this is something you should definitely start looking at.
5. Make Friends Who Have Goals
The bullshit doesn’t stop just because you’re not in High School anymore. There are kids who come to college and get caught up with the fun aspect of college and forget about the real reason why they’re here — getting an education. Surround yourself with those who have similar goals as you but, who are also fun. As hard as that may seem, Mason is a 34,000 strong university — you’ll find quite a few people who have those traits.
Have study sessions, work on projects or assignments together (if your professor allows it) and grab some lunch or coffee every now and then. The first few weeks are rough but, like any new school, sooner or later you’ll make friends.
6. Go to Patriots Day (Fall) / Mason Day (Spring)
It’s part of being a Mason Patriot. Yeah, some years they’re hit or miss but, most years they’re quite fun. They can be a bit cheesey but, if you’re with friends it can be a lot of fun plus Mason Day usually has a pretty good concert to end the day — most recently Ludacris and Jessie McCartney. Like I’ve said before, Mason is a young school but, these two events have been a Mason tradition for years! Keep the tradition going and go (it’s free — concerts are usually really cheap or free too).
7. Rub The Mason Statue Toe Before Exams
I thought this was bullshit when my orientation Patriot Leader told us about this but, my first semester I rubbed the golden toe (it’s shinier than the other foot) and passed all my classes with flying colors earning me my first Dean’s List semester of my college career. I know it may sound stupid but, it seems to work and when combined with sufficient studying it is very effective. Again, it’s a tradition so keep the tradition going.
8. Learn Where Everything Is
Volgenau School of Engineering
Mason, even though it’s in a suburban setting, is pretty large. Add to that a few building expansions and new soon-to-be-built buildings like Academic VII, it can get a bit confusing. Add to that Mason’s multiple campuses and remote locations , like the Potomac Science Center in Belmont Bay, and things can get complicated pretty quickly.
Start off with the buildings you HAVE to know: The JC (Johnson Center), Patriot Center (EagleBank Arena), Fenwick Library, Pilot House and Southside. From there start to expand, you’re bound to have classes in odd buildings like a Chemistry course in one of the original four buildings or a CS class in the Art building. It’ll take time but, you don’t want to be a sophomore who doesn’t know what to do when a visitor asks where a building is.
9. Community Service
Dozens of organizations at Mason have community service projects. Whether you go greek or get invited to join an honor society, there are many opportunities to help out those in need. Like we’ve said before, Mason isn’t just about partying and hours of studying, it’s also about becoming a better human being. No matter how bad your situation may be, whether it be barely being able to pay for tuition or issues back home, there will always be someone out there who has it worse. Donate some of your time to help Mason help those who need it.
Some Mason Patriots have gone to Baltimore to help people clean up communities affected by the riots, packaged thousands of meals for children here and abroad, traveled to other countries during their breaks to help distribute supplies, shave their heads to raise funds for childhood cancer (above) — the list goes on and on. We may be a young school but, we have big hearts. If there is something you’re passionate about, regardless of major, there is probably an organization at Mason that is right for you.
10. Be Proud of Where You Go To School
Mason is a unique place. We are a diverse accepting community of 34,000 students from all 50 states, dozens of ethnic backgrounds and hundreds of points of view. We have gone from a tiny college under the University of Virginia to an independent exponentially growing research university boasting the largest student population in the state. Rankings and polls aside, not many universities can say they’ve grown and done this much in such a short period of time. You are part of something that expanding and isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Be part of that during your four years at Mason (or more if you stay for grad school) ; make your ideas a reality and leave Mason a better person well equipped to take on the modern world.
No idea is too dumb or too out of reach. Our motto is “Innovation is Tradition” and that’s true, we innovate and create from powders that detect concussions using saliva to sound-fire extiguishers — Mason Patriots can do just about anything as long as they work hard at it.
We may not be number one but, those at the top in academics and athletics better watch out. We’re known as Giant-Killers for a reason.
BONUS: REFER TO MASON AS MASON OR GEORGE MASON. NOT GMU — IT SOUNDS TOO MUCH LIKE PARTY SCHOOL ON ROUTE 81.