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Lauren Stone: Involvement a cure for freshman jitters

Features Editor

First-day school jitters for 6-year-olds are nothing compared to the butterflies and knocking knees of college freshmen.

Brave young men and women go away from home, many of them for the first time, and into a big, new world filled with unfamiliar faces and strange places. It’s enough to make anyone what to run home to mama.

"But, you can’t do that; you have to stick it out," said Lauren Stone, a junior at Auburn University.

Stone openly admitted that she had freshman jitters when she went away to college.

"A lot of us were homesick for our parents, our own space and home cooked meals," Stone said, with a smile. "But, when we felt that way, we would get together and go out and we would soon feel better. You just have to stick it out. If you run home the first time you feel homesick, it will be harder to stay the next time."

Looking back, it’s hard for Stone to believe that her college days are passing so fast.

"I’m half way through and I can’t believe it," she said. "College has been a wonderful experience for me."

Considering all of the opportunities that have come Stone’s way, it would be hard to imagine that she had butterflies when she first arrived on the Plains.

"It was almost overwhelming," Stone said of her first days on campus. "There are 23,000 people on campus and you feel alone in a sea of people. You’ve left everything behind that’s familiar to you and it’s very intimidating. But, you have to get over your shyness and get out and meet people."

Stone found ways to meet people and one way was to join a sorority. There were 60 girls in her Alpha Delta Pi pledge class and 200 girls in the sorority. Although that seems like a large number, it brought her into a smaller social circle and into a less intimidating place.

"In a sorority you’re with a group of people with common interests and it’s easier to make friends," Stone said. "But, sororities aren’t for everyone. At Auburn, only about 30 percent of the student population is Greek. There are a lot of volunteer organizations that students can get involved in where they can meet people with similar interests. The more involved you are, the easier it is to adjust and the more fun you’ll have and the more opportunities and experiences."

Stone has taken advantage of the opportunities that have come her way.

Her freshman year, she filled out an application and was accepted as a Diamond Doll for the Auburn University baseball team.

"Diamond Dolls is hostess organization," Stone said. "We decorated the players’ lockers and prepared food for them. We had several brunches for their parents and we always sat together as a cheering section during their games. We were a spirit group and we had a lot of fun."

After two years, Stone said she wanted to do something different so, in the spring, she tried out for Tigerette for the football team.

"I didn’t know if I would make it or not, but I wanted to try," she said.

She won one of the spots and is looking forward to a football season which will be experience in a different way.

"Tigerettes are actually recruiters for the football program," she said. "When recruits are on campus for visits, we conduct tours for them – tours of the campus, the traditional college places in town and, of course, the stadium. We do things to help out the coaches and that’s a lot of fun. The A-Day game in the spring was my first experience as a Tigerette. We were each assigned to a coach and were responsible for the recruits assigned to him."

On game day during the season, the Tigerettes will host the recruits and escort them to the game and eat meals with them. Stone is looking forward to meeting the recruits and helping to recruit quality players for the Tigers.

She was home for a few days this week after serving as a counselor for Camp War Eagle which is orientation for freshmen.

"We had eight sessions with between 500 and 600 freshmen at each two-day session," she said. "we went from 7 o’clock in the morning to 10 at night."

The duties of the counselors were to relate the history and traditions of Auburn University to the newcomers and to get their spirits high for the adventures and opportunities that come with an education on the Plains.

"We also had to prepare them for registration," she

said. "The last day, they registered for their classes for the fall and we helped them with that."

Being a counselor for Camp War Eagle was one of the best experiences of Stone’s college days, so far.

"There were 36 counselors and we all got to know each other so well because we were together day and night," she said. "We got to be like family."

And, families go on vacation together.

"Between sessions we went on trips together," she said. "Some were short trips to the lake, but we went on some big trips, too."

The counselors went to Disney World, whitewater rafting on the Ocoee and took a cruise to the Bahamas.

"We had a great time," Stone said. "I’ll always remember what fun we had and I made friends that I’ll have all my life."

For Stone, college is an exciting journey. She has taken advantage of opportunities that came her way and, when none came, she went looking for them.

That is what she suggests for all of those who are leaving home soon for the uncharted waters of the college campus.

She said getting homesick is common on campus. The cure is sticking it out. Those who do stick it out and make every effort to take advantage of all of the opportunities available to them will find college to be a great place and, sadly, it will be too soon be over.