Photo Credit: Nazareth College
Being a new student during New Student Orientation can be an exhausting task. After moving into a new place, leaving your parents, and meeting your R.A., floor-mates, and so many others, the last thing you want to do is go play ice breakers with some over-excited upperclassmen. But take it from a former Freshman “Orientee” and Orientation Leader, participating in the activities during this first weekend are insanely beneficial for everyone involved.
Orientation is designed to help students not only acclimate to campus, but also to give them the chance to meet their soon-to-be classmates. The opportunities for socialization among students are seemingly endless, but the weekend isn’t just for freshman and transfers. It also gives Orientation Leaders, Resident Assistants, and staff a chance to meet and mingle with one another, along with the new students.
College is a chance for reinvention. Here at Naz, we focus on personal development and growth in addition to developing a solid academic foundation. This all begins during your first day of orientation. As a new student, you have to start making decisions about yourself right away: are you going to go to all of the events, or are you going to be the kid that stays in their room? Are you going to hang out with your orientation group, or are you going to follow your high-school friends who go here too? Are you going to tell personal stories, or are you going to leave it at your favorite color being blue? Whatever you choose won’t bind you to a certain stereotype for life, but making simple choices like these can determine who you start to become in the weeks to follow orientation.
As a freshman during orientation, it is easy to forget that others may be having a similar experience. You can get so wrapped up in controlling the image you are putting out and how others are perceiving you, that you forget about connecting on a realistic level with others. One thing I noticed as a freshman was that none of my peers were particularly honest with one another. This awkwardness makes it difficult for students and leaders to gauge whether or not the vibes being given off are “real” or not.
As an Orientation Leader, it is refreshing to go into orientation weekend with an enlightened perspective. Not only have the days of training prior to move-in day prepared you for what’s ahead, but you now have your own experience to put into account. Moreover, you are in an entirely different position. There is no pressure on you to make friends, so everything is easy-breezy. The orientation leaders were bonding and creating friendships without even trying. It goes to show that honesty really is the best policy, especially when it comes to communicating with new people.
In the weeks following orientation, I urge any freshman and transfers to instill a new policy for honesty. Skip the awkward small talk and really get to know your peers. Joining clubs, finding a job, or aiding in a service project are ways to facilitate conversation between people you will already have common ground with, which may alleviate some of the awkwardness.
In addition, if you enjoyed your time during Naz’s New Student Orientation, or have some ideas for how it can be bettered, make sure to look out for the time to apply! Take a stab at becoming an Orientation Leader yourself, and get the chance to learn about yourself, your school, and your peers. Most importantly, have a great semester!