Baldwin-Wallace College: Week Four
I can’t help but take a moment and reflect on the fact that I survived this week. If there were ever a time for a ‘Game Face’ in this internship, this was it. Prep for the first round of Orientation: getting keys, registration, advising appointments, and room assignments settled (truly this was the work of some incredible student coordinators), working the kinks out of presentations for training and Orientation, and preparing for the 8 groups of OL’s to arrive and get their ‘crash course’ on BW, ‘form,’ and jump right into session one!
I don’t think that I could have asked for a better experience. Abby and Kelsey, our Student Directors, were on point, upbeat, organized, and prepared. They were definitely the glue of a sometimes hectic office environment, and led the charge. Check in and training with the OL’s was incredible. I wondered how only a few days of training would actually apply itself in building a group dynamic with cohesion while also giving them the adequate knowledge to feel comfortable once Thursday came around. It happened. They rallied around one another, asked thoughtful questions and soaked in information, practiced the check-in process, ice-melted, team-built, Chipotle(d), Whirl-Ball(ed), broke down some dance moves, sang the fight song, and most importantly, learned about one another.
Our leadership team took some reflective time before each day to check in on progress and address concerns, and did just that; creatively and effectively. We had fun along the way, and built a strong foundation for a comfort amongst one another. By the end of training I even felt like I knew all of the OL’s well enough to have fun and joke with them, and they definitely kept me on my toes returning the favor. I ended training with a whole multitude of nicknames (both appropriate and questionable) and laughed. A LOT.
We entered session 1 enthusiastically, and as ready as we could be. Of course the fatigue of training and stress of the program itself made our prep all the more important and easier to lose track of, but we managed our way through. The program itself is very much the product of lots of communication; phone calls, emails, planning, and understanding. The benefit of all of this meeting, planning, and communicating, is that the program runs on it’s own, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, because there isn’t much room for adjustment or ‘nimbleness.’ On the other hand, it allows for moments to catch your breath and enjoy the students, sessions, and one another amidst the craze. There were definitely some nerves. The other graduate intern and I put together a goal setting presentation for the first-year students with activities and steps to help to begin to set their goals, and with only one formal run-through, I spent the day with our notes glued to my hands. When it actually came time to present we settled right in, and things went rather well. Getting that opportunity was so much fun, and we had a great time with it; best of all, the students were really interactive, and while they were bursting with energy, seemed to enjoy the content (we’ll see once we check out the evals); we even managed to attract a few casual former students to the student life presentation to hang out with us!
After a late night dance party, a few incidents with loud residents, and an early morning, we got the ball rolling again. In fact, a few former students of Kathy’s stopped in and we chatted for a bit on their way to an alumni weekend at BGSU. It’s awesome to really see the work that is done pay off. Orientation seems to really be based on the edict of ‘beginning with the end in mind;’ and not just building a seamless program, but one that engages students, prepares them for college, and in some cases, helps them narrow their deposit. And while I maintained the evaluation area to collect feedback on both the Student and Family programs (mandatory for Students to check-out, recommended for Families) some real understanding in the role of Orientation washed over me.
Obviously I’ve recognized the time commitment involved, but I truly have never stopped to enjoy or appreciate the ‘product’ of Orientation until my experiences at BW, and more specifically this session. It really is the genius of Admissions, Transition, Academics, Marketing, and Customer Service combined at their best. More importantly, is the role of the student in that process. As an Orientation Advisor and Coordinator in my undergrad I respected the experience and the importance, but watching the program actually take place and listening to the reactions of the Orientation Leaders throughout the day, I noticed my thoughts wondering to new places, not just thinking about the OL’s role, but the role of the program overall, the glitz versus functionality of the program, and how important it is to remain united and clear in communication throughout those involved.
The transition from a functional role to a reflective and theoretical understanding of Orientation has become difficult to grasp, but the perspective is a welcome one. I really enjoy the role of Orientation in the college experience both through transition and engagement as it truly exemplifies campus collaboration.
How do you view the role of Orientation in the college experience?