College and university orientations for new students take many forms. Sometimes orientation may take place early in the summer and may be a day long or may involve an overnight. Orientation may take place just before the fall semester begins, with new students arriving on campus a few days before returning students. Orientation usually takes place on campus, but may involve an off-campus trip or outing. Orientation provides an important opportunity for new students to meet each other, make connections, and get to know the school and its expectations.
Whatever form Orientation may take, most schools use student Orientation Leaders to help conduct the program. If your student is a new student and will be attending Orientation, he may be wondering who this Orientation Leader is. If your student is a returning student, he may be considering becoming an Orientation Leader and you may wonder what that involves.
Orientation Leaders are usually students who have been hired by the college to help run Orientation. The job of OL, as these students are often called, is an important one, and schools are often very selective in making their choices about who to hire. The Orientation Leader is often one of the first contacts that a new student will have with his new school other than Admissions personnel. The impression that the OL makes, and the information that the OL gives, may have a significant influence on the new student’s experience at his new school.
The position of OL is not an easy one. OL’s serve as representatives of the college, and as role models for incoming students. OL’s are often campus leaders with energetic and positive attitudes about the school and the college experience. Qualities such as maturity, dedication, caring and compassion are important. They are knowledgeable about campus facilities, policies and procedures. They often undergo extensive training regarding group leadership and facilitating group discussion, and also regarding the transitional experience and issues facing incoming students.
Orientation Leaders may contact students before they arrive on campus and/or may follow up with students after the Orientation session is over. Obviously, at schools that have multiple Orientation sessions throughout the summer, this requires significant time from OL’s beyond the actual Orientation session. These trained students serve as guides and important sources of information about campus life and college expectations.
Serving as an ambassador for the college, and helping new students make the transition to college life successfully are important goals for most Orientation Leaders. As your new student gets to know her Orientation Leader, or if your returning student decides to become an Orientation Leader, you will be assured that the college-student connection is not only strengthened, but personal. Your student’s Orientation Leader may be one of her most significant contacts at her school, with that contact often being maintained well into the first year.