Orientation. Something every freshman dreads but has to go through. At Penn State, freshman orientation, more commonly known as New Student Orientation (NSO), is the largest and longest orientation process in the United States. Penn State started training its 20 orientation leaders, eight members of the check-in-crew and three student program specialists back starting the first week of the spring semester last year. After the school year was over, the all 31 members of the orientation team were lead through 60+ hours of training in the span of eight days lead by the six members of the director team and some huge representatives on campus, including the head of Greek life, to make sure that all members are ready to do their jobs to the best of their ability so all incoming students are ready to come to the University Park campus for the second summer session or in the fall, depending what their acceptance was contingent on.
At Penn State, there are over 40 two-day sessions welcoming new students, as well as a few one-day programs in addition to the 40 sessions for international students, commuter students and transfer students. With all the planning that has gone into this amazing NSO program, here is what you can do as students to make the most out of your own NSO, coming straight from one of the 20 orientation leaders this summer (myself).
1. Have a positive attitude.
While you might have the attitude that you are “too cool for school” and that you’d rather be anywhere else instead of sitting through a dumb orientation, let’s be real. One of my directors summed this up perfectly: Being in Penn State on a rainy day is better than being somewhere else on a sunny day, including your hometown. If you have an optimistic outlook, you will actually enjoy yourself and get a lot out of your orientation session.
2. Ask meaningful questions.
Penn State is a huge university, so you are bound to have at least one question. That is the point of having a very knowledgeable orientation leader at your disposal. All of the orientation leaders are very knowledgeable and more than happy to answer questions. In fact, we love hearing questions that we haven’t heard before, so try to think of a really unique question if possible!
3. Look at Schedule Builder ahead of time.
Since the incoming class of freshmen this year is around 8,000 students, advisors often feel rushed and overwhelmed with the amount of students they see daily when they help students schedule classes, so it is a lot easier if you already have your classes put in Schedule Builder and have started to look at possible schedules. Additionally, if you felt rushed during your scheduling session, you are able to go back into LionPath and get to Schedule Builder and play around with your schedule some more!
4. Attend all of your sessions.
If you don’t attend all of your sessions, you might not be able to schedule classes and have to attend NSO all over again! Who would want to do that? Us as orientation leaders know your day is very long and that not everything we are teaching you is interesting, but it is important information that President Eric Barron wanted us to all relay to each and every incoming student. Some of the information is so important that it can save lives. Plus, Penn State wouldn't have a session if crucial information wasn't being shared.
5. Make at least one new friend.
You will meet tons of new people at NSO, so make sure to try to make some meaningful connections with at least one of them. A new friendship in the making is always so fun!
6. Visit the Lion Shrine and Berkey Creamery.
After a long day of information overload, why not treat yourself to a delicious ice cream or milkshake and a nice relaxing walk to the lion shrine? Those are all things you can do at LateNight, in addition to wandering campus, playing your Orientation Leaders in any sport you can think of (how fun!), getting some free snacks and drinks at Pollock residence halls and even going downtown!
7. Reaffirm your decision to attend an amazing university.
Even if Penn State wasn’t your first choice, I hope attending NSO will make you realize all that Penn State has to offer and how you can tailor Penn State to your individual needs. Remember, you can always make a big university small, but you can never make a small university big.
I hope you make the most out of your orientation, whether that is at Penn State or elsewhere. Orientation a crucial part of the transition to college and it is a rite of passage to be able to officially call yourself a college student. So have fun and enjoy!
Lead Image Credit: Deme Wharton