Correcting the freshmen orientation

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Pennie

Shifting the focus to campus life outside of studies

Now that FASET in its current form is changing, it gives the perfect opportunity for us as a campus to think about how we can welcome the newest generation of Jackets with what we remember most: the various extracurriculars and the social interactions. 

Organization fairs are a crucial part of the orientation experience, as student life at Tech can, and should, be more than studying. Likewise, orientations should emphasize the extracurriculars with dedicated time for incoming students to explore the diverse opportunities available.However, according to information from the Center for Student Engagement, this summer will feature only two organization tabiling fairs for new students: the first for summer first-year students on June 14, and the second for all new students on Aug. 9.

Limiting what often is the only opportunity for smaller organizations to reach out to incoming freshmen into only two nights is only to the detriment of the future they will spend on campus. 

If the issue is a lack of confidence in weather conditions for an outdoor fair or a lack of space for an indoor one, the obvious solution would be to hold an online event available for students to seek out the contact information and meeting times for the clubs they find interesting. 

As for the social experience at orientation, the potential for long-lasting connections leaves much to be desired. In its current form, FASET groups are essentially random groups of kids that are excited to be starting college but are too shy to communicate with complete strangers. Opportunities for interdisciplinary connections are important, but they could have more meaning and cultivate the type of community that Tech wants by grouping students that will already be together throughout the school year. If incoming freshman were organized by their dorm floor, and the orientation being held by their future Peer Leader, the people they would be forced to interact with would be less of a stranger and more of a future neighbor. 

It is difficult to imagine the “perfect” orientation program. The transition from high school to college is one that is difficult to prepare for. But if Tech introduced students to campus by focusing on the aspects of being a Jacket outside of the classroom, the freshmen experience would be more nostalgic than regretful.