New Student Orientation: the best week of the academic year. Giant parties, free (albeit watered-down) booze and no nagging schoolwork to ruin all of your fun. As a freshman, there is no real way to prepare for this most debaucherous of long weekends. So you pregame with your new BFFs (read: your freshman hall), walk down Spruce and thrust yourself into the madness. Then, after five days of the coolest, bestest frat parties ever, you’ve fallen in love with Penn. Thank god you chose the Social Ivy!

It’s not until later that you realize freshman NSO is the worst of all NSOs. Not knowing anyone or anything, you walk around like Tai at the Val party — clueless, vulnerable and trying to get with the first Elton you encounter. Most of us would like to forget those freshman NSO memories, assuming we were sober enough to retain them in the first place.

Now sophomore year NSO, that’s really where it’s at. You may be part of a Greek system or some club, and after a four-month Penn hiatus you’re totally excited to see your 150 new best friends. You attend an off-campus pregame, have no problem getting into parties (because you know all of the most important people) and drink the night away.

But then the parties aren’t as fun as you remembered. Too many wandering freshmen crowd the sticky rooms, Natty Light kegs have lost their appeal and perhaps you have an awkward encounter with your ex-fuck buddy or bitchy freshman roommate. So junior year you set low expectations. Yet, even those sub-par standards aren’t met. Everyone is abroad.

Remembering NSOs past, I didn’t know how to approach senior year. Instead of psyching myself up, I did something rash: cut my NSO short. The partying began Thursday, so I arrived on Sunday.

After two nights, I realized the senior NSO rules: your friends throw parties, you know people at said parties and you’re a pro at handling awkward encounters. I thought I had made a great decision… until Tuesday night rolled around. Still in NSO mode, I expected another epic night. But everyone else was NSOver it.

Yearning to go out, I realized that while we condemn NSO, we need it. As crowded the parties and embarrassing the antics, we need five days dedicated solely to drinking and socializing. Because after those nights, that’s it, welcome to the Social Ivy: where we party just hard enough to maintain our GPAs.