Students praise shortened Orientation
By Sophia Johnston, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, September 10, 2012
Despite the changes to the Fall term calendar that caused the Class of 2016’s New Student Orientation, held Sept. 4-10, to run two days shorter than previous years, members of the Collis Orientation Team and members of the Class of 2016 interviewed by The Dartmouth said that the shorter timeframe did not detract from the events’ usefulness.
Orientation featured numerous events, including drop-in advising with undergraduate deans, a library open house and individual academic advising. Members of the Class of 2016 also participated in a class photo in front of Dartmouth Hall, community-building programs and social events, including “Creating Your Community” residential cluster socials, the Hopkin’s Center’s Night of the Arts, Collis After Dark and Saturday night’s a capella showcase in Spaulding Auditorium.
The shorter program made Orientation less stressful for Collis Orientation Team members because they had fewer events to schedule, David Chiang ’15, a member of the 12-person student-run Collis Orientation Team, said.
“The shortened nature of Orientation reduced organizational pressures and enabled the Orientation Team to devote more time to interacting with freshmen and sharing advice,” Chiang said.
Chiang attributed his decision to join the Orientation Team to the upperclassmen he encountered and the “pragmatic advice” they provided during his own freshman Orientation last year. Chiang said that, when questioned by freshmen, he is “as honest and open” as possible about his Dartmouth experiences.
“Some freshmen are overwhelmed by the overload of information and the fact that they are expected to take in the entire campus in three days,” he said. “Our role is to sift through all the information they receive and convey it and feed it to them in the most accessible way.”
Nkenna Ibeakanma ’16 attended several of the academic departments and programs’ open houses, which she said helped her with course selection and encouraged her to apply for the Dickey Center’s Global Issues Scholar program.
“Before there were two or three classes I thought about taking, now there are more than 10,” she said. “I spoke to a professor at the classics open house, and I now want to start ancient Greek so I can read the New Testament in Greek.”
Following the academic open houses and meetings with individual undergraduate academic advisors, freshmen completed course selection. The College provided a recommended course booklet to aid with fall course selection, and members of Orientation Team helped to advise freshman, according to Chiang.
Max Hannam ’16 said he was initially confused by the course selection process and sought out upperclassmen to better explain the procedure.
“Course selection is one of the most important factors for freshmen,” Hannam said. “I wanted to understand how my course choices will affect my distribution requirements in the long run.”
The Orientation Team encouraged students to attend two academic-focused lectures to expose them to faculty and explore opportunities for involvement in campus life. Julie Kalish, a lecturer with the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, gave a talk titled “Conveying Ideas in the 21st Century” to a packed Moore Hall on Wednesday, which emphasized writing as a “core activity” both during and beyond Dartmouth.
“Writing today takes place everywhere,” Kalish said. “You are the first generation where the vast majority of writing takes place outside the classroom context. You tweet. We did not tweet. We are no longer just talking about the written word, we now have the ability to integrate different types of technology into your information that changes the way you communicate.”
The lecture featured a “voices and visions” video that profiled several upperclassmen’s academic experiences. They encouraged freshmen to take advantage of available academic advising resources and explore diverse interests.
“I currently have a fear of not having a sense of direction but this video made me realize that all Dartmouth students go through similar struggles,” Chelsea Lim ’16, who attended the lecture, said. “This makes me feel more at ease and gives the College a real face because the students are genuine. Dartmouth prides itself on a sense of community, and after watching this video I really felt that the College creates an environment condusive to friendship.”
Will Lynch ’16 attended Wednesday’s lecture “Globalizing Your Dartmouth Education,” organized by The Dickey Center.
“I think the Dickey Center has a lot of cool opportunities to help you travel to different places,” Lynch said. “I spoke to some upperclassmen who interned with a health minister in Rwanda, which sounds really great.”
Associate Director for the Dickey Center Chris Wohlforth encouraged students to take advantage of global opportunities while at Dartmouth, ranging from freshman-specific programs to academic departments and on-campus events with visiting scholars and experts.
“There is a global dimension to everything you do at Dartmouth,” she said. “Think of your Dartmouth education as a summation of your in and out-of-class experiences. Be deliberate, sample broadly and make connections.”
The Dartmouth Outing Club introduced the Connection Croo this year, a new initiative to help members of the Class of 2016 that do not return home after their First-Year Trips stay busy during Pre-Orientation and adjust to living in Hanover, Lauren Alarab ’15, a member of the group, said.
Connection Croo Pre-Orientation activities included Hanover breakfast tours, soccer on the green, Frisbee on the Gold Coast lawn, movie nights and baking, and Croo members gave freshmen advice on which Orientation events to attend, Alarab said.
“Although we focused on Pre-Orientation activities, Connection Croo talked about the different scheduled events, and a larger group of upperclassmen will also work together during the fall to organize fun events and trip reunions so that [freshmen] remain connected,” she said.
Several DOC First-Year Trip leaders said they explained the Orientation process to the freshmen on their trips before their return to campus.
“There is so much going on, it is very easy to find ways to get involved on campus and integrate yourself at Dartmouth,” hiking trip leader Sutton Higgins ’15 said.