Oh the beginning of summer. High School seniors are getting ready to graduate and move on towards achieving their life goals. Many include going to college, and the first step at most Colleges and Universities is new student orientation. My experience with new student orientation is the smallest of our First Year Experience program, but the importance and the lessons I learned were just as significant. I not only participated in new student orientation as an incoming first year student, but I also had the privilege of being a Orientation Student Leader (OSL).
As an OSL, I was prepared for a month of pure insanity. We ended the semester at the end of April and the first weekend in May began our month leadership class. We, a staff of 36 OSLs and 4 student coordinators, moved into one of our residence halls to begin preparing for orientation. Every morning would consist of workouts at our Rec Center. Each day would cover a wide variety of topics and field trips around campus that would ultimately teach us about ourselves, leading groups of students, and knowledge of the University. Each evening and weekend we spent bonding and getting to know each other through “Deep Meaningful Conversations.” It was truly an experience that greatly shaped who I am as a Student Affairs Professional in Higher Education.
Orientation is a time to begin the connection between the students and the University. It is a time where departments begin to show the support services they offer to students. It is also a time for the students to begin making networks with other students, their student leader, faculty, and staff. Although it is a very chaotic couple of days for the student, the student walks away with a sense of belonging and feeling that they are a welcomed member of the University.
For more insight about the Orientation program at Western Michigan University click here. The purpose of this post is to give small highlights to the program I was a part of to ultimately start a discussion about Orientation. If you have questions, comments, or stories of programs of your own, please feel free to comment below. Please also feel free to connect with me on Twitter @JoshKohnert