Tuesday, August 18th, 2015, marked the beginning of many students' college careers at RIT. On Tuesday, the majority of the incoming class moved in. Orientation for freshmen and transfers began the day after move-in and gave new students the opportunity to adjust to campus before classes start.
This was my second year as an OA, or Orientation Assistant. OAs are upperclassmen who help facilitate events throughout orientation and take charge of their own specific group of 15-20 freshmen (or transfer students).
Orientation at RIT consists of several presentations throughout the week, as well as time for your OA to show you around campus and answer any questions you may have. There are also social events held each night for students to attend, such as a hypnotist, magician, rock climbing, ice skating, games, and (my favorite) a dance party on Saturday night.
I remember back when I was a freshman. The first few days were pretty overwhelming, to be honest. There were so many people, and I didn't really know anyone. Would I make friends? Where were my classes? How does the meal plan work? I had so many questions! And, at the same time, I was nervous to ask them because I didn't want to look completely clueless (like it wasn't obvious already). It was nice to be able to move in before the rest of the student body and kinda get a feel for campus. My OA was also super helpful. I felt like she knew what she was talking about, especially since she was also a student and knew exactly what we were going through. Some schools have orientation for a day or two during the summer, but I really liked having several days right before the semester. It gave me time to settle in, and meet people right away (and not totally forget their names/faces by the time I got back to campus).
Being an OA is an amazing experience. OAs move in almost a whole week before freshmen. We have our own training and workshops to help us better answer any of the new students' questions. Did I mention dancing? During OA training, in between info sessions, we often played upbeat dance music to reenergize. It's become a tradition of sorts for all OAs to know several signature "line" dances – such as the Wobble, the Turbo Hustle, and (more recently) the Nae Nae. As a result of our informal dance training, we often cannot resist the urge to dance whenever we hear music... especially in the field house with all our freshmen. Once the Turbo Hustle starts playing, all OAs stop what they are doing and dance. Most freshmen look a little confused at first, but by the end of orientation, many have picked up all the moves themselves.
As an OA, I try to remember exactly how it felt to be that new student trying to take in everything at once. Throughout the year, I work as a tour guide for RIT's undergraduate admissions office. I could've given my orientation group the best tour ever and told them so many facts... but that would've been information overload. Instead, we played ice breakers and games to get to know each other. I showed my group the tunnel systems (something you wouldn't see on our regular campus tour), and pointed out the more obscure places on campus. I tried to give them information that they could actually use - like which WiFi to connect to and how the meal plan works.
One of the highlights to my orientation experience this year was having 6 students/families come up to me and say, "You were my tour guide when I visited RIT!" THEY REMEMBERED ME. I was thrilled! I love giving tours for RIT, and try to share how great my school is with families. They must have enjoyed my amazing sense of humor and great puns! ;)