For the UAS Whalesong
As you may know, I was a Student Orientation Leader for the Fall 2015 New Student Orientation. And as you may not know, several of the incoming students I interacted with asked me why I had volunteered to be a student leader. If you’re one of those students and already know my answer to that question, feel free to move on to a different article. If, however, you are not, stick around! But don’t worry. I’m not going to talk about just me. I have a blog for that. This is about you, and this past orientation, and why I think orientation is an overall great process.
To start with, let me say that I have several reasons for wanting to help out with orientation, as well as for why I think doing so is a great idea. One of the first and most prominent reasons is that it gets you back into the swing of social interaction really quick. I spent this past summer at home and, while I had a part-time job selling sporting equipment to youthful aspiring NFL linebackers, the majority of my time was spent in relative isolation 30 minutes away from all human contact. I went from 4 months with no real social interaction (apart from my pets and immediate family) to suddenly being immersed in people and introductions and events. If this sounds wild, you’re right! However, going from zero to a hundred in this regard is definitely not for everyone.
That being said, another reason for helping out with New Student Orientation is the people you meet! Especially if most or all of your classes are on-campus, you’ll probably want to know or at least recognize the people you’ll be seeing and interacting with on a daily basis. And even if the students you meet aren’t in your class, it doesn’t hurt to know who they are and be able to say hi and ask how they’re doing when you see them in the cafeteria or getting coffee. A lot of college is about networking and getting to know people, after all, and orientation helps you get started with that.
Specifically regarding the Fall 2015 New Student Orientation, I had a lot of fun helping out with it! This year, campus staff is implementing something new called the UAS “First Year Experience.” I had never heard of this before, and at first I thought that it seemed a bit cheesy – but so far, it seems like a cool way to get freshmen involved and help to make their first year of college a great one. There are banners around campus with checklists on what makes a good first year experience, as well as an attempt to bring students closer together via the internet. There’s an official UAS First Year Experience Twitter account: @uasfye – and any student (not just freshmen!) can use the hashtag #uasfye in order to bring attention to what the college life at UAS is like. Most of the initial hashtagged Tweets were in relation to orientation – for example, usage of the hashtag was mandatory in order to participate in the UAS Locations scavenger hunt. But students have since been using it to ask questions about the UAS campus and college life in general, as well as to share pictures of things like their “first day of college” gear setups and live-Tweet campus events like the Walk-In Movie Night.
I’m interested to see what else the First Year Experience program holds in store for the freshmen – as well as for upperclassmen, since we all share the same campus, and I’m curious to see what might be considered an essential part of the “first year experience” that I might have missed during my freshman year. In the meantime, good luck to you all – freshman or not! Every school year is your first year of some stage of college – freshman through senior – and you still have plenty of time to enjoy everything that college has to offer. Just remember that the college experience, first year or otherwise, is most importantly about your education. So keep it together, try to have some semblance of a homework  schedule, and don’t be ashamed to cry alone in your room over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s sometimes. You gotta do what you gotta do. No judging.

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