You’re squished with all your dorm essentials in the back of the car and your parents in the front trying to find parking. Emotions are high: Will you make friends? Will classes be too hard? What’s your roommate going to be like?
But have no fear! The second you get to campus, you’re surrounded by a group of friendly undergraduates wearing bright blue shirts welcoming you to campus, distracting stressed parents, and showing you the ropes of campus living. These bright blue students are your FCCs, or freshman (otherwise known as “frosh”) camp counselors.
FCCs are Caltech’s version of an orientation leader, whose main job is to introduce a pre-assigned randomly generated group of 8-10 students to campus through tours, group meals, move-in help, and general questions. Any upperclassman can apply to be an FCC, and every accepted FCC student is paired with another FCC (or co-FCC). They are all exceptionally eager to meet you!
Freshman move in a week before school, but these FCCs will have moved in a couple days before you. Many upperclassmen will have been living on campus before fall term starts for a variety of reasons: there’s Caltech summer research, pre-season sports, and your FCCs who all move in before frosh. Upperclassmen who have already explored campus are always eager to show new students around or to be a lunch buddy. Your FCCs, however, are your main point of contact.
This year, with COVID regulations in place, FCCing became all the more important. Since there were so many regulations in place for students meeting each other, FCC small groups were students’ primary method of making friends before term. I know I was nervous to meet my freshman group, since I had only been on campus for less than a year. My freshman year, COVID sent everyone home after spring break, and last week was the first time I had been back on campus - now as a junior. I was apprehensive since I felt that I didn’t know much more than the frosh in terms of campus living and resources.
It turns out, however, I only had to show the basic campus resources and locations (which I knew!). The most important part was making students feel welcomed and find a small group with whom to get along. Since me and my co-FCC were so excited to be back on campus and couldn’t wait to share this joy, that goal was readily accomplished. We had amazing group lunches and dinners outside - once even supplied by In-N-Out; fun tours of all the crazy stuff at Caltech - I bet most Techers besides my frosh and I wouldn’t be able to locate all the edible/herbal plants such as oranges, lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, etc. at Caltech; and outdoor games to explore the facilities of Caltech - nighttime dodgeball with an icecream truck anyone?
My FCC group has their first classes today, and I feel like they are ready to be out alone in the big world of Caltech!