Dear freshmen,

I’m an elderly, wise senior. Ages ago, I was just like you.

In those first few weeks, I partied with a water polo jock, a Laguna Beach cast member, a girl who tragically died three months later, a high-school senior (who said she was in college), a surf rat and an upper-east-sider. Most of them don’t talk to me and that’s mostly because they pretend like they don’t know who I am. I thoughtfully reciprocate. I’m about to explain to you why that’s absolutely one of the most awesome things you’ll ever experience and it only happens once, during these first few weeks of college.

The 450-foot drop that propels the thrill ride of college social life is simple density of young folk. Also: sex, disposable income and… ginger ale. There is no other time in our lives during which we’re surrounded by so many other people our age. As college goes on, you’ll still be eating, breathing and pooping with your peers, but it’s froshy year where it’s thickest. People gradually move off campus and get jobs over the next few years, and it just makes the simple probability of seeing someone precisely your age a little worse. Plus, all you freshmen are typically colonized in the corner of campus like a bunch of Pilgrims. That density of hairless chests and pre-beer-belly-bodies is just one part of the perfect storm that makes those first weeks so incredible.

The second part is kind of an inexplicable, magic, social aura. Somehow, for a good three weeks at the beginning of freshman year, everyone is humble. You can literally go up to anyone, at any time, and introduce yourself for no reason and the other person will smile and start a conversation right back.

There’s little you could do to precede your reputation before you come to college. Everyone is turning a new leaf and starting from scratch. They don’t want to be labeled as mean (at least not until they figure out who they can afford to be mean to). So they act nice in hopes that you’re an important step on their social ladder. My hunch is that it’s a selfish sort of defense mechanism to avoid being black-balled, but strangely, everyone implements it the same way. It feels like just plain friendliness – be it superficial or not.

To sum up: you’re surrounded by people your age who are being super friendly plus they’re all horny, rich and completely sober. Take advantage of it! I hope it goes without saying, but this process should not involve roofies. Here are some safe alternatives: ask a girl on a date, play beer pong at least once in every dorm and go to the beach with as many cars full of people as possible (plus, that’ll open up some parking spots for upperclassmen). You can party with anyone you want for these first few weeks, so do it twice as much. You’re going to reminisce about it forever.