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Social networking helpful to incoming freshmen

Each year, hundreds of prospective students look forward to A Day on College Hill. They see it as an opportunity to visit classes, attend special programs and performances and meet their future classmates for the first time.

But as Facebook reaches near-universality and the idea of social-networking becomes practically cliche, most members of the Class of 2013 have already ‘met’ many of their classmates – online.

Though the Admission Office set up an official Web site for incoming first-years to communicate, many prospective students say they have only used the site to set up their school e-mail accounts or to check dates against the University calendar. They prefer instead to ‘meet’ on the ‘Brown University Class of 2013’ Facebook page, which has almost 1,000 members.

Adam Henderson, a senior at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa., wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that though he looked at the official Web site, he found the information and discussions on the Facebook page ‘a lot more helpful and interesting.’

Travis Bogosian, a senior at Friends Seminary in New York City, said Facebook makes it easier for him to get his questions about next year answered.

‘I’ve been clueless up until this point, and any help I can get is welcome,’ he wrote in an e-mail.

‘I tried to figure out how to set up an e-mail account on the (Brown) site before going to the class Facebook page and asking for help from someone I met there,’ he wrote. ‘It’s funny how that works.’

But besides having his questions answered, Bogosian has also gotten in touch with future classmates who live nearby.

‘I’ve ‘met’ a bunch online,’ he wrote, adding that he has since met some of his online ‘friends’ in person – Bogosian recently attended a get-together with other New York-area members of the Class of 2013.

New York is not the only city where students have coordinated impromptu get-togethers months before settling into freshman year. Henderson organized an outing in Philadelphia, and the class Facebook page is teeming with suggestions for meet-ups in the Bay Area, South Florida, Chicago and Los Angeles.

But many prospective freshmen – especially those who live too far away to meet up with future classmates or to attend ADOCH – simply visit the site to learn more about their potential classmates, roommates and friends.

‘It’s interesting to see the other types of people who will hopefully be my classmates,’ wrote Marley Pierce, a student at East High School in Denver who will not be making the trip to ADOCH.

Kshitij Lauria, an international student from New Delhi also won’t be attending ADOCH, but admitted to checking the Facebook page ‘every half hour or so ‘hellip; during waking hours.’

‘Excitement about Brown just oozes out of the discussions, and it’s infectious as hell,’ he wrote in an e-mail. ‘September can’t come fast enough.’

One of the most popular discussions on the page – with nearly 300 responses – is a thread entitled ‘Ask a Brown Student!’ As the name implies, prospective first-years write in with questions about everything ranging from concentrations to cell phone coverage, which are answered by current Brown students.

Other popular discussions are seemingly random, with titles like ‘What Song Are You Listening to Right Now?’ and ‘Your Life as a Single Quote – from Someone Else.’ There are threads where students have posted their opinions on veganism, quiz bowl, baking, opera, Judaism and everything in between.

But in the end, though Facebook provides a fun way for future students to get to know one another, most prospective first-years agree that the best way to meet their potential classmates is still in person.

‘I think that I’ll only truly get to know future classmates when I meet them face-to-face,’ Henderson wrote.

Bogosian admitted that ‘occasionally the online meeting system backfires when I meet the classmate in person and realize I know a little bit too much about their favorite movies.’

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