New-student orientation helps Class of 2014 feel right at home
August 26, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
their parents to campus during the opening day of orientation.
He and his wife, Susie, host the annual first-year student picnic
at their home later in the week.
On the first day, new students had time to get acquainted with
campus and each other.
Orientation Assistants like Zeke Edwards, above, spend the five
days helping new students find their way around, answering any
and all questions, offering advice about college life and more.
During orientation, students also explore downtown Danville,
which is just a few blocks from campus.
The transition from high school to college is not always an easy one. Knowing this, the Student Life Office at Centre College devotes a remarkable amount of time and energy to organizing each year’s new student orientation, a period when first-year and transfer students get acquainted with the College—and the other members of their class—before diving into college classes, meetings, extracurricular activities and more.
“The process helps students begin adjusting to the college lifestyle because it gives first-years a chance to interact with each other without being overwhelmed by the upperclassmen population,” says Alex Birmingham ’13 of Lexington, Ky., who enjoyed her new student orientation so much that she is now an orientation assistant.
“Coming into Centre, I knew a few people from Lexington but made some of my earliest and strongest friendships during orientation,” she says. “Meeting people and making friends is a very important part of adjusting to college life and learning to be independent. If you have friends to count on and ask for help, you’re already on your way to building a support system within the College.”
Roxy Lewis ’11 of Louisville says that orientation allows new students to “get comfortable with Centre and where everything is on campus without the pressure of class starting the next day. It also allows them to ask as many questions as they need to without bothering an upperclassman or feeling silly.”
Orientation assistants like Birmingham, Lewis and Liz Bressler ’12 of Hopkinsville, Ky., receive training before the new students arrive on campus. Each O.A. leads a small group of first-years or transfer students, showing them the ropes of Centre College and Danville.
“I love being a part of a wonderful group of O.A.s who get to introduce Centre College to the first-year students,” Bressler says. “I truly enjoy being a role model for the students: being open to their questions, offering advice and helping them in any way that I can. I love meeting the first-years because it makes me excited to see the new and unique talent, ideas, knowledge and fun that these students are bringing to our campus.”
Throughout the five-day orientation—and the new students’ entire first year at Centre—the class is encouraged to ask questions. “One of the most important but simple things students learn during orientation is who to contact if they need something,” says Laura Pasley ’10, student life coordinator and former orientation assistant. “One aspect of making the transition to college is learning to be an advocate for your own needs and questions. During orientation, we try to give students the contacts and resources needed to be self-sufficient.”
Each day of orientation is filled with activities, from hall meetings to game nights to academic conferences to movies on the lawn to community service events to the president’s picnic (hosted by Centre president John Roush and his wife, Susie).
Other events include a performance by a hypnotist, who chooses volunteers from the first-year class to hypnotize on stage as their peers watch with amazement; a laser tag adventure, held in Sutcliffe Hall; and a “Delve into Danville” activity, during which students visit downtown and eat dinner with members of the Centre community and local musicians.
“The Student Activities Council sponsors events for each night of orientation, and these are definitely favorites of the students,” Pasley says. “The days of orientation can be very busy, and these evening events give students time to unwind and meet more of their classmates.”
Birmingham says that although “the orientation process is an enjoyable experience overall, there are specific events during the five days that go above and beyond first-year expectations. Having a picnic at President Roush’s house is a perfect example of something new students often enjoy most about orientation. How many first-years at other colleges can say that they not only met the president of their college but ate dinner at his house within the first week of school? This introductory event truly exemplifies how personal a Centre education is, and it sets a wonderful example for what to expect from Centre in the future.”