For upperclassmen it conjures memories of Texas summer heat and bonding games.
It brings on waves of nostalgia and fond memories of repeating one’s name, hometown and anticipated major over and over again.
For incoming first-years, it incites equal parts excitement, curiosity and — most
likely — anxiety.
But put your mind at ease, Class of 2018. Here are the best tips for making the most out of Mustang Corral.
Corral may be optional, but it’s the easiest way to make friends right before you start classes in August.
You’ll see tons of people you know walking from your commons to Dallas Hall at 9 a.m. that first day.
“Whether you’re a freshman or a transfer student, you’ll meet other new students, and it guarantees you’ll know a friendly face when you walk around campus the first day,” said Marcella Lupski, a 2014 AARO Leader.
2. Be yourself
It sounds cliche, but it’s easy to forget to act natural when you’re trying to make new friends in a new place.
Be genuine and you’ll make friends you’ll still have your senior year.
“My best advice for Corral is to be yourself. Corral is such a fun time to meet new people that you are going to spend the next four years with,” said Carissa Laughlin, a three-time Corral Leader.
3. Branch out
Mustang Corral is a great way to meet people who may not necessarily share your major, hobbies or future plans.
You’ll leave having a huge network of friends across campus if you get to know the people in your cabins, at your lunch table and in your groups.
Who knows, they could become your best friends.
“Be open to all different types of people, try and participate in the activities and make the most of it,” Laughlin said. “SMU is an amazing place. As a rising senior, I can say that I am still friends with the people I met at Mustang Corral.”
Sophomore Caroline Gurley agrees.
“I made some great friends at Corral because I had the courage to introduce myself to them,” she said.
Be sure to remember your new friends’ names.
“Some of the people I least expected to see again became great connections and great friends,” former Corral Leader Emily Towler said. “It means a lot to people when you can give them a personal greeting.”
4. Get to know your leaders
Worried about your first day of classes?
Not sure what to major in or what organizations to join?
That’s what your leaders are there for. They not only lead you through games and activities — they act as mentors all through your first year. Take advantage of that.
“They want to be there; they’re not paid, they just love SMU and want you to love it too,” Lupski said. “Ask them questions, no matter how trivial – they were in your shoes once, and they know what it’s like being the new kid.”
5. Bring the necessities
You won’t be focused on making new friends and learning about SMU if you’re dehydrated and covered in bug bites. Avoid these troubles by bringing things like bug spray, sunscreen and a water bottle. Also bring things that make you feel comfortable like your own pillow. Making sure you feel comfortable will allow you to focus on the fun aspects of Corral.
Corral Leader Shelby Kehr also suggests bringing your phone and charger.
“Not so you can sit and text your friends from home, but so you can get numbers from people you meet,” she said. “It helps you remember names.”
We’ve all been there — playing an icebreaker with strangers you just met can be difficult. But it could also be fun.
“Yes, some of the games are ridiculous, we all know that,” Lupski said. “But having a good attitude about it and going all out makes it more fun for everyone.”
You and everyone else in your group will be grateful you spoke up. It gets everyone else in the spirit to participate too.
“Be outgoing,” Kehr said. “You may as well, and few things are more awkward than a group of people sitting and staring at each other.”
7. Have a good attitude
It’s easy to go into your first-year thinking you know everything you need to know about going to college, making new friends and living in a new place. But be open to learning new things at Mustang Corral.
Clay Moore, a Mustang Corral Director and a former AARO Leader, urges incoming students to make the most out of the few days you’re at Corral.
“I remember when I went through Mustang Corral, I didn’t have that much fun. I realized when I went back as a leader that it was because I wasn’t one of the people that had energy,” he said.
8. Have fun!
Remember Mustang Corral is supposed to be fun. The hard part starts with classes. Take a moment to enjoy everything you get to do at the camp because it’s the first of the many memories you’ll make at SMU.
“Your time at SMU is going to fly by,” Lupski said.
What’s the best way to have fun at Mustang Corral?
“Put yourself out there, make new friends and learn from the sessions, because Mustang Corral, when done the right way, can be one of the best experiences of your first year at college,” Moore said.
So pony up and head to the Hilltop armed with these helpful hints to master Mustang Corral.