Look Behind You!!! 3 Lessons from Corny Horror Movies that also apply to life as a College Freshman

By Baylee Easterday

Hi all! My name is Baylee, I’m a Junior at William & Mary and an Orientation Area Director. I’m also a huge fan of horror movies, the campier the better! Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, any Stephen King movie, the Ring, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, they’re all great. There’s something about watching someone on screen making what seems like the worst decisions possible and thinking in the back of your mind that you could’ve outsmarted Freddy Krueger just fine or that you would have left Jason in the dust. Add in a few cathartic jump scares and you have my ideal Saturday night. I know for a lot of you who are transitioning to college for the first time, it might seem like a bit of a scary story. Dining hall food, doing your own laundry, sharing a bathroom with 15 other people, three midterms in a week… and just like with horror movies it’s easy to imagine that you won’t fall into any of the classic pitfalls. But can any of us honestly say with 100% certainty that if we heard about the tape from the ring we wouldn’t watch it? My point is, sometimes when you’re in it (it being a campy horror movie or midterm week) it can be hard to take care of yourself to the best of your ability. Stress and adrenaline can impact your decision making. That’s why I’m here with this themed list of lessons that, if you remember, will help you drive away from the corn field full of creepy kids and succeed in college!

Lesson #1: “No DON’T split up, gang! Ever heard of strength in numbers???”

This Fred-from-Scooby-Doo standard is a common pitfall amongst horror movie protagonists and college students alike. Those of you who are horror movie fans like myself can probably recall yelling at a screen as the protagonists of any cabin-in-the-woods slasher decided that the best way to respond to the menacing presence in the trees was to split up and look around separately. It is oh-so-common in horror movies to see the protagonists go their separate ways after entering the murderer’s menacing lair so that they can be picked off by the Big Bad one by one without the other characters learning too much relevant information about the antagonist. In spite of the fact that their chances of success are almost definitely higher if they didn’t split up! College students have a tendency to do the same thing. When things get tough or we are stressed, it can be easy to separate ourselves from our support systems. And it is true that sometimes locking yourself in a Swem individual study room for 8 consecutive hours with no outside contact and without leaving for meals can be an effective way to write a term paper. However, it’s also a good way to feel isolated and unsupported as you go through stressful times. Lean on your people, let them help you out when you are having a tough week and help them out when they’re doing the same! This looks different for different people, it can mean using meal times to meet up with your roommate, taking a one hour study break to take in the sun on the sunken gardens with a close friend, or just having some chill company while you go through a study guide. But don’t spend all of your days alone with your schoolwork, make time to spend with others and feel connected to your friends and loved ones. We are never in this alone, and when we try to go it alone, we are more likely to be killed off for plot reasons and more likely to feel unprepared to tackle big challenges. 

Lesson #2: The dramatic reveal… that character has been injured all along!

Slasher movies are full of chaotic scenes, complete with subpar lighting and already banged up and bruised protagonists. Many directors take advantage of this chaos to utilize the trope wherein the audience doesn’t realize that a character is injured until they literally collapse into some kind of comatose state. The other characters are also shocked that the injured character didn’t say anything before! As a general rule, don’t be that injured guy! Sometimes when there is a big, intimidating antagonist, whether it’s the ghost of a 17th century murderer or a 30 page paper, we can ignore “smaller” things like self-care or mortal injuries, until they get so big that tackling these issues can be very difficult. When we have a ton of academic things going on, it can be easy to not want to take the time to make filling meals for ourselves, skip our laundry, or push off outside responsibilities. I do it as much as anyone. But we have to remind ourselves that taking care of yourself is productive. Rest is productive, self care is productive. Eating a good meal gives you brain power, getting enough sleep helps you remember and process the information you’re learning. Having a clean work space can help put you in a good headspace. Don’t neglect treating your minor wounds until they cause you to collapse in the middle of a battle. Be active in taking care of yourself.

Lesson #3: “He’s leaving her behind? I can’t believe this!”

Horror movie love interests are stereotypically major jerks who are completely willing to abandon the protagonist when the going gets tough. Often after forcing the protagonist into a situation they weren’t completely comfortable with in regard to substance use, romantic/sexual situations, or breaking the law. Don’t settle for the kind of people who are only there for you when things are easy! In your friendships and your romantic/sexual relationships, seek out the kind of people who would listen and validate you if you didn’t feel comfortable in the cabin in the woods, and wouldn’t leave you if you broke your ankle while running from a serial killer. Find the type of people who want to be with you all the time, on your good days and your bad days, who always take your feelings into account. When you are moving to a new place, it can be scary, and this can mean you want to find friends fast. Don’t let that desire keep you from finding the kind of people who would always double back when they realized that you weren’t with the group. You are worth it.

It’s a scary world out there. Especially for those of you who are new to college. Take care of yourself, take care of others, and you’ll do just fine.

About Baylee

Baylee (she/her/hers) is a Junior from Pasco, Washington. She has spent the Fall semester at home working and raising some succulents, so she is very excited to be returning to campus in the Spring! Baylee is a double major in Government and Hispanic Studies who takes classes on Shakespeare whenever she can. After graduation, Baylee is hoping to move to a Spanish-speaking country to teach English before continuing on to study international law.

On campus, Baylee is involved with research and advocacy related to American Sign Language, and research on sociolinguistics and diplomacy. She is also involved with the Moot Court team and the rock climbing club. Baylee loves science fiction, waffles, and Taylor Swift (her favorite albums are Reputation and Folklore). Her favorite spot on campus is the bench across from Washington Hall, in spite of the fact that she once got pooped on by a bird there.

Baylee has been looking forward to being an OAD since her own orientation. She’s previously worn the neon three times: as a member of LRHunTAL & Co, Botetourt, and the Spring transfers and exchange staff. She’s incredibly excited to plan next Fall’s orientation, and to help a new incoming class of William & Mary students feel comfortable and welcomed, just like she did as a freshman!

A Ranking of Academic Buildings on William and Mary’s Campus

By Neel Simpson

I didn’t expect to be a science major when I came into college. In high school, I was interested in science topics but always found my humanities and language classes more interesting. However, after multiple identity crises and semesters of turmoil, I decided to declare my major in geology. I was super excited for my geology classes, but between that and other requirements like math, bio, and chem, I was noticing that my schedule was lacking in time to take those humanities classes that had made me so excited to come to William and Mary. With some careful planning, I’ve been able to take at least one class per semester on a topic I was interested in, from Music to Economics to Religious Studies. I recommend this for anyone considering a STEM major, not only to diversify your coursework and improve your writing skills but also to develop a critical thinking mindset that’s necessary for leaders across every discipline. I can’t say that I had a favorite subject that I took as an elective, but I had thoughts about the buildings. Here’s my guide to the best places to take these classes.

  1. Blair Hall

Cards on the table, I’ve never actually taken a class in Blair and probably never will, but it is consistently my favorite building to walk through. The mahogany walls and marble floor have peak dark academia vibes, and the classrooms are all comfortable to sit in. Even if you’re like me and can’t take a class here, make sure you check it out some time!

  1. Wren Building

I’ve taken one class inside the Wren, and one this past Fall in the tent outside. It might seem controversial that I put it in second, but when I had a class here, tourists would always be walking around or even trying to step into the classroom. Still, the religious studies department is phenomenal and there’s nothing like sitting in one of the classrooms here!

  1. Tucker Hall

I will say that I’ve had all sorts of classes in the Tucker Theatre, including a geology class, but never an English class. I’ve also never had a class in Tucker that was not in the Theatre. However, this has to be my favorite academic building design-wise. There’s so much natural light and that staircase on the second floor is a great spot to study, hang out with friends, or just sit and read. The colorful walls are also a great touch!

  1. Andrews Hall

Andrews is often forgotten because it sits kind of in new campus and kind of in old campus, next to Swem and the ISC. I haven’t been able to take a class here, but the few times I’ve walked through, I’ve appreciated the modern vibes and art installations from the incredibly talented students in the art and art history departments. The only time I ventured into a classroom here was for a pre-study abroad information session, and I remember it being very difficult to find. For its navigational faults, I had to put Andrews in fourth place.

  1. Ewell Hall

I took a Music COLL 100 my freshman spring, and while it was the only music class I’ve been able to take, it has been one of the most interesting classes I’ve taken yet. Ewell gets bonus points for having the music library as a study spot, and also the ability to walk around and listen to faint classical instruments hum in the background. However, I just remember my classroom being packed with desks and being difficult to walk around, so I have to push this building back to fourth place.

  1. Washington Hall

Washington Hall is BIG. I’m genuinely surprised that I didn’t get lost in this building more than I did, but there’s so much to see here and some of my favorite classes have been in this building. I recommend taking an archaeology class here and seeing if you might be able to access some of the collections they have in the basement. The Washington lecture room, while it is a fun space to have larger classes, definitely lacks acoustic capacity and can be hard to hear. Additionally, nothing stands out about the classrooms here, so it gets an average score. 

  1. Morton Hall

Morton gets a bad rep, and I do wish I could defend it, but this has to be one of the worst buildings on campus, hosting some fantastic departments and students. My favorite part of Morton is walking through the hallways and learning about events and opportunities from departments like Sociology, Africana Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. That being said, it takes forever to walk to, there is consistently a puddle outside, and the classrooms are dim and cramped. The students in this building deserve so much better.

  1. Tyler Hall

Tyler is the most cursed building on this campus. Ever since my 9 am in this building my freshman fall, I have been adamant about never taking a class in here. It seems like they tried to make it seem nice and modern but at the cost of any personality. And why are the lights so harsh? If the lights are going to be turned to their absolute brightest possible, then why are all the floors, ceilings, and walls also a bright white? Stepping into this building gives me the same sense of dread that I get when I’m on a zoom call and I realize I’m not muted when I thought I was. If you can avoid a class in Tyler, please do. If you can’t, please work on your priorities. 

About Neel

Neel is a junior from Vienna, Virginia, who is double majoring in environmental geology and anthropology. While he has been an orientation aide for both GGV and Botetourt, his heart still belongs to his freshman dorm, Hunt Hall. When he’s not sporting his neon as an orientation aide, he spends his time volunteering with the office of sustainability,doing research in the Keck Environmental Studies lab, or working with his team on GeoLab.

Outside of classes, he enjoys playing guitar, cooking vegan food, and anything outdoors. He is a Sagittarius and INTJ, but his most telling personal characteristic is that he genuinely enjoys Swem third. After William & Mary, he hopes to attend graduate school to study human and environmental geography, but is beyond excited to make the most out of his last two years here.