As I walked to my classes last week, I encountered what seemed to be an endless number of tour groups consisting of parents listening intently and prospective students glancing around to take a look at current students.

Needless to say, I received many awkward looks I wasn’t sure how to respond to. So not knowing what else to do besides look back, I just smiled hoping they caught it before they looked away.

But all the tours and the apparent increase in the feeling of excitement on campus all leads to one thing: the 19th annual Open House.

Although I experienced Open House last year, I vaguely remember it because I was caught up in the scheme of things. The campus was zoo-like, with thousands of people wandering around to explore each aspect of campus. It was overwhelming for me because I didn’t know what to do and what to check out.

But with visitors on campus every day this week and Open House just around the corner, I thought I’d give you some tips so that you can better navigate Open House and this place I now call home. So this article is dedicated to you, prospective freshmen.

First, during Open House, check out everything. Whether you’ve already decided to come here or you’re still considering it, it’s helpful to discover what Cal Poly has to offer. From clubs and greek life to academics, it’s important to see if this school offers something you possibly want to get into. Walk by all the booths, get some information and spend a little time talking with people, then check out another booth.

Be independent. Yes, you’re with your parents and they’re paying for your education, but don’t forget that college is for you. So wander a little bit and check out things that you’re specifically interested in. Don’t wait for your parents to tell you that you should talk to whomever in the engineering department, but do it yourself. Show that you can take the initiative to make a connection with someone in something you’re interested in.

Remember to talk to people, especially current students. No one knows this school better than those students who have been here for a few years. You’ll definitely find helpful knowledge from these students, especially if a student is involved in something you’re interested in.

If you spot someone in an Open House volunteer shirt or someone who looks like they know what they’re doing, don’t be afraid to go up to them and start a conversation. Ask what their major is, what they like about this school and this town and why they chose their major. If they’re majoring in something you want to major in, ask them how the major is, how classes are and what they love about it. We’re excited to see you and are happy to answer any questions (and talk about ourselves).

Of course, since Cal Poly is the school you’re interested in, it’s obviously your main attraction when you come to San Luis Obispo, but make sure to also explore the town itself.

If you’re here on Thursday night, go to Farmers’ Market and walk down Higuera Street to experience the culture in San Luis Obispo with your family. Back at home, we have a farmers’ market twice a week, so I thought San Luis Obispo’s would be nothing special. I was wrong. Downtown is transformed for Farmers’ and is a great way for you to get a feel for what San Luis Obispo offers, as well as a great way for your parents to pick up some groceries or great food.

Make sure you visit downtown during the day, as well. Have a tri-tip sandwich at Firestone Grill, clam chowder at Splash Café or grab some coffee at Kreuzburg. Those are just three out of the many delicious food venues in San Luis Obispo, so whatever you choose will surely not let you down.

Whatever you do, just make sure that you remember to keep an open mind because you won’t be able to experience Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo fully without one. Enjoy yourself and explore everything and anything to make the most out of your visit and open house weekend.

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