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Make the most of orientation

By Zach Phil Schwartz

Section: Opinions

August 21, 2015

It is an emotional time when Brandeis students cross South Street for the first time to begin their college careers. The experience is nerve-wracking for parents as well as students, who are moved into their residence halls for the first time. For all first-years, move-in day marks the end of an era and the beginning of another, bridged by the oft-overlooked orientation.

As the chaos of move-in day subsides and parents say their final goodbyes, orientation commences, ushering in a period that in the past has earned mixed favorability from students. Intended as a transition period for first-years to get used to college life, receive valuable information and socialize, orientation accomplishes its goal—for those who do not get lost in the shuffle.

Some first-years undertake long and arduous journeys just to get to Brandeis, where they all embark on an even longer and more arduous journey. It is not fair to expect everyone to be totally awake and open to all that orientation has to offer. It is unreasonable to expect all new students to want to hit the ground running, fully comprehending the emotions involved in embarking on their journeys. Some students are understandably afraid while others are simply too tired to function properly after an exhausting day of getting to campus, waiting to move in, actually moving in and saying goodbyes. Others lose interest in what orientation has to offer, which is an issue that the Core Committee is able to address.

Along with the orientation leaders, the Orientation Core Committee does amazing work in putting together this transition week year after year. Despite all of this hard work, some first-years find themselves disinterested in what the week has to offer. The reasons for these students’ lack of interest vary, but they all miss out on the important things the week has to offer. For whatever reasons, many students feel lost and overwhelmed by the process and decide to stop attending orientation events, like the spirit rally and book discussion. These events aren’t just thrown in to waste time; they’re there to foster a sense of community and educational discussion among new students who do not know each other.

Each new class arrives on campus a loose conglomeration of students. The goal for these events is to mold out of this conglomeration a more close-knit social and academic class. If students are uninterested in these events, it is harder for these goals to be met. However, the implications on the class as a whole are small given the large amount of students that stick with the orientation events.

The real consequences fall on the individual students that do not, for whatever reason, wish to participate in the events. It is through these decisions that these students do not get to participate in community building events or fascinating book discussions. Although students are not destined to be best friends with everyone they meet during these events, they still meet people that will be friends for years to come. Without orientation, the transition into college life and all it entails would be much more challenging, and this is the scenario some face.

To those students that are just so exhausted from the process of getting to school and saying goodbye to their parents, it is not fair to be expected to engage in the activities at full capacity. This is why orientation week should be longer and more spread out so that the whole thing does not have to be concentrated. That way, students do not have to feel extra pressure even before classes start.

The same modifications to orientation week should also apply to those disinterested in the events, perhaps even to a greater extent to make it more palatable. All of the parties involved in orientation are amazing at what they do, but it would not hurt to strive a little harder to not lose students in the shuffle. A desire to sleep in before classes start is perfectly understandable, as is a desire to branch out on one’s own. Maybe with a longer orientation week, events would not have to be scheduled so early in the morning. It is the little things that sometimes make a big difference in students’ decisions, and it is important not to overlook them.

Class of 2019, please take advantage of all that orientation has to offer you. It is an extremely helpful period to aid in your transition, even if you do not believe you need it. Remember to keep an open mind in regards to all of the events, as they are all extremely helpful. Welcome to Brandeis!

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