Ask an RA: Ray Schechter answers your burning questions about living at SLC

Ray Schechter '15 is not only a superstar RA, but also one of the most hilarious people you'll ever meet. Here, she answers the questions incoming first-years are dying to ask.

Ray Schechter '15 is not only a superstar RA, but also one of the most hilarious people you'll ever meet. Here, she answers the questions incoming first-years are dying to ask.

Despite all of our guides about first-year life that we have published, there are a lot of questions that I’m sure we were unable to answer. The list goes on and on of worries for that first day of college. So, in order to answer some of your burning questions, The Phoenix has recruited the help of veteran RA and senior Ray Schecter to get you in the know for the vague scenarios and issues that you might have.

Nervous First-year: How can I make move-in day run as smoothly as possible?

Ray Schecter: Move-in day is the most exciting event all year for the residence life staff. They look forward to it all summer so everyone you interact with will most likely be shitting sunshine anyway. To make the day go even smoother, you should take a deep breath, kiss your parents goodbye, and internalize the fact that this is the first day of the rest of your life.

NF: What do I do if I catch my roommate masturbating? Alternatively, what do I do if I have to masturbate?

RS: Masturbate! You’re in fucking college you can do whatever the hell you want.

NF: How infrequently can I shower and still be socially presentable at SLC?

RS: I had a friend tell me once, “it’s been six whole days since I’ve showered.” This was NOT during conference week, it was just a regular day during the semester. I remember looking at him and thinking, “damn, your individuality is sexy as hell.” Maybe this means six days is the limit, I’m not sure. Interpret this story as you will.

NF: What do I do if I hate my roommates?

RS: Here is a short list of procedural steps for the situation that is NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK:

a.) Voice your opinion. If you don’t say anything about a problem you’re having with your roommate, how will you solve anything?

b) After talking about your points of conflict decide on specific things you can both do to prevent these problems.

c.) If your roommate is not receptive to your angelic voice or your rooming problems, TALK TO YOUR R.A. They have many hours of training in this exact situation. Use this resource as your guiding light.
    d.) If your R.A. isn’t receptive for some weird reason, the next step is to talk to the director of residence life.

e.) You’ll be fine (by the way). Worst comes to worst, if you have a roommate you don’t get along with, residence life will help you find a new one. Remember everything is temporary. You’ll be FINE.

NF: Ugh I got a triple room -- is it possible for me to coexist with two other people?

RS: Um triple? Can you say THREESOME? No, no just kidding I wouldn’t endorse having a threesome—this causes undesirable tension in the living space (learned that one from experience). If you get a triple, or even a double for this matter, make sure to voice your opinion on things that are important to you in your living space. This is the only way your roommates will be on the same page as you to set the vibe of your room.

NF: I’m a neat-freak but my roommate is a pig. What do I do?

RS: This question I seem to have answered already. If you have a strong opinion about the standards of your living space, voice it in the beginning of the year. If it is a shared space among many young peeps, it’s tricky but you got it. Make your opinions strong and clear. Remember compromise is your friend. Listen to your roommates just like they will listen to you. DO NOT WORRY!

NF: Where’s the best place on campus to get a cup of coffee?

RS: Your own kitchen.

NF: Will upperclassmen make fun of me if I ask them for directions?

RS: Upperclassmen won’t make fun of you in general. They are looking for friends just as much as you are. When I stepped onto SLC campus as a first-year I asked two juniors how to get to Hill House. They walked me across campus to my apartment and I continue to be friends with them to this day. Give the kindness you think you ought to receive. That is just general advice. You’re welcome.

NF: How do I get the key to my room on the first day of school?

RS: You will receive your key when you check-in at the library on the first day! Don’t lose it. It [costs] money for a replacement.

NF: How do I make friends?

RS: Just be yourself! If you came to Sarah Lawrence to study and learn, you will make friends here. There are also a lot of crazy clubs and sports here to spark interest in things you might have in common with other people. If you feel like you’re not making friends and you’re anxious about it, you should check out Health Services. They have a lot of ears there and a lot of time to listen.

NF:  How do I make friends if I’m super super super shy/weird/awkward?

RS: Coming from the shyest person on campus, I can say I’ve experienced this at SLC. I know a crazy senior who is a redhead. She can help you. Find her and say “I Want friends.” She will point you in the right direction.

NF: SLC is supposed to be super-hip and trendy. What should I wear? Will people judge me if I don’t look cool enough?

RS: Secret to being cool: you are cool. Wear whatever you want! Be who you are! People will follow.

NF: Everyone at SLC is so artsy. What if I don’t write/sing/act/dance/paint?

RS: Do something you enjoy. This makes you artsy.

NF: Real talk, which dining hall is the best and what should I eat there?

RS: There’s only one dining hall that is truly a dining hall, making it the best and worst dining hall on campus. Bates. My suggestion is to get creative. But it is good in the beginning of the year, so you’re fine.


Ray Schechter '15 interviewed by Wade Wallerstein '17 &

Registering for classes is a snap with this how-to guide

Heard about interviewing but not really sure how? Here's a how-to guide to interviewing, registering, and re-interviewing for your Fall 2014 classes.

Heard about interviewing but not really sure how? Here's a how-to guide to interviewing, registering, and re-interviewing for your Fall 2014 classes.

If you have accepted your invitation to attend Sarah Lawrence College, chances are you already have an idea of what things are like around here. We do not do anything traditionally here, and our class registration process is no different. As a first-year (or first-semester transfer student), trying to navigate the confusing academic waters of the interviewing system can be challenging. This guide is meant to help you know exactly what to do and how to do it on your quest to get the perfect class schedule this semester.

In order to sign up for a class, Sarah Lawrence requires that you “interview” for it. Don’t be nervous, it is not you who will be interviewed—instead, you get to interview your professor! This is your chance to ask any and all questions that you might have for the semester to clear up any doubts you might have about the class’s workload and course material. Why get stuck in a class that you hate for a whole semester or even a year? The interview process aims to get you into classes that are right for you and, generally, serves this function. While one-on-one interviews with professors might sound a little bit intimidating, most professors are really easy to talk to and will give you all of the information that you need to make an informed decision come registration day.    

In order to sign up for an interview, you must schedule a time slot with the professor of the class that you want to learn more about. Most professors provide a sign-up sheet on the door of their office where you can write your name down for a specific time slot. Other professors, especially professors who are teaching high-volume lecture classes, will hold group interview sessions where anyone can come, listen to a short talk about the class, and ask any questions that they may have. Signing up for interviews is the hardest part of the interview process since it requires that you roam around the school looking for professor offices, which are sometimes quite hard to find.

So, how exactly do you find your professor’s office? Never fear—on move-in day you will be given a full course catalogue as well as a list of all of this year’s professors and their office door numbers. In order to make this process go smoothly, make a list of all of the classes that you are interested in signing up for. As first-years, you will only be able to choose two classes (since your first-year studies course occupies one, year-long course slot), so there’s no way that you will need to go on more than three to seven interviews. If you chose only semester long classes, you will interview a second time in the beginning of the spring semester. Since your first-year-studies course is year long, you will be in the same boat with the number of interviews you will have.             

Once you have your prospective course list written out, cross reference with the list of professors that you will be given and write down their office number next to the class name. Once that’s done, grab a friend, grab a map, and head out on a scavenger hunt for their offices. Reserve some time to do this—it may take you a few hours as offices are spread out far and wide across campus. Do not be afraid to ask faculty members or upper classmen for help if you cannot find something. Sarah Lawrence is a friendly place and people are usually quite helpful.

Make sure that you sign up for time slots that are not too close together, and that you do not double-book interview times. You will want enough time to get from one interview to another. Advice: do not forget about any of your interviews—it makes a bad impression on the professor who have a say in whether you get into the class or not.

So, now that you have your interviews all scheduled and ready, what actually happens during the interview? You will want to prepare a list of questions to ask your potential professors. You can compile a list of general questions that apply to all interviews, and some course-specific questions as well. Professors get grumpy and bored answering the same questions all day long, so try to make your questions as class specific as possible. Here is a list of some general questions that you can build off of:

    How much reading is assigned per week? Per night?

    Are there quizzes or exams in this course?

    Besides conference work, how much writing will there be per week/per night?

    What have students done for their conference work in the past? What will conference


work be like this year?

    What books will we read in the course? How many of those texts are required (aka

how many books will I have to buy)?

    How many students will be in the class?

    Will there be any collaborative work or group projects?

    What is your teaching style? How much hands-on work will we be doing?

    How much of the class is discussion based?

With a proper list of questions to ask your interviewed professor, you should be set to get all of the information that you need in order to make an informed decision about choosing classes.

Once your interviews are done, you have to do a little bit of logistical planning before you can actually fill out your registration paperwork. Check the class’s time slots. You must be available at those times to attend class, and no other class may overlap. Often times, you will be barred from taking a class simply because it overlaps with your year-long FYS. Checking class time slots will help you narrow down how many interviews you will have to conduct.

When you have everything sorted and your registration paperwork all filled out with your first, second, and third choices, it is time to register. Registration occurs in the Esther Raushenbush Library, and, basically, you just have to wait in line until it is your turn to register (do not worry, registration is usually pretty quick). After that, it is just a waiting game to see if you have been accepted into the classes that you want. Usually decisions are posted the next day on MySLC. By logging in online using your student ID number and password and clicking the “My Courses” tab, you can see which classes you were accepted into.

Due to small class sizes and high demand for some courses, you might get bumped from a class. While this is definitely a major bummer, it is not the end of the world. You will be able to tell if you got bumped if only one or two courses appear on the “My Courses” page. The last weekend of orientation week is round two interviews. If you are bumped from one or more classes, this is your time to sign up for more interviews based on the list of remaining open classes. Usually, the selection is much much smaller on second-round interviews, but you can generally find something that will interest you. After repeating the interview process, you will be asked to list three options for each open slot in your schedule. While you are asked to list in order of preference, you are not guaranteed your first or second choice.

And there you have it! All of the tools that you will need for a successful interview week. Remember that faculty and upperclassmen are super helpful, so do not be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it. Our system can be quite confusing at times, but is easy to latch on to once you get the hang of it. Good luck interviewing this semester, and welcome to Sarah Lawrence.

by Wade Wallerstein '17
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