July 19, 2009

Orientation ’09 Eases Transition to Cornell

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One of the main challenges for each Orientation Steering Committee is putting a new spin on the annual event.
According to Jack Cao ’10, one of the members on the OSC, this year the committee is trying to give the orientation theme a more prominent role than previous years’ themes.
“What makes 2009 unique is the emphasis on integration,” Cao said. “The theme of technology is meant as a metaphor for the OSC’s attempt to get the new freshmen integrated and connected to Cornell.”
To achieve this goal, Cao explained that the OSC has invited numerous student groups on campus to orientation events to hand out information to students. Cao said that orientation is a perfect time for the new students at Cornell to either continue an activity they had previously developed or find something new.
Despite widespread budget cuts across the University, Emily Krebs ’10 said that this years orientation was not impacted by the economy, though she conceded that future orientations could be. Since the budget for orientation is prepared well in advance, the 2009 orientation budget was created before the economic turmoil and the subsequent University cuts.
While Freshman Orientation is an event that happens year after year, its importance, Krebs said, can be seen not only in the valuable memories and experiences that freshmen create, but in the willingness and devotion to orientation exhibited by those who plan it.
Krebs has been a part of orientation every year she has been at Cornell. She started as a participant as a freshman and continued as an orientation leader as a sophomore.
“I loved my group. I really felt that I was able to help the people in my group get acclimated to Cornell,” Krebs said about her influence as an orientation leader.
Because of the impact she felt she was making on those freshman, Krebs continued to develop an appreciation for orientation and was devoted to getting more involved in the planning process.
“I wanted to do it on a grander scale,” Krebs said about her decision to get affiliated with the Orientation Steering Committee. She was a member of the OSC her junior year, and this year, she is the chair of the OSC.
One consensus among many of the OSC members was the importance of having freshmen get a feel for the University, the campus and their peers prior to the beginning of their first semester.
Since incoming freshmen are already nervous to undertake a rigorous academic workload, it is better to evade social pressures and lessen the anxiety of navigating an unfamiliar campus prior to being bogged down with homework.
Often, students who enjoyed their orientation week as freshmen become orientation leaders as upperclassmen. Quality orientation leaders can help provide an easy transition to the potentially hostile college environment, and many students are eager to pass on their experience to worried freshmen.
Cao was in charge of the selection for the estimated 600 orientation leaders. He said that in addition to being excellent, enthusiastic people, the orientation leaders are also knowledgeable about Cornell — a quality that will serve well those freshmen who they will lead throughout orientation.
But many freshman seem to have already connected over the Cornell Class of 2013 website and “Cornell Class of 2013” Facebook group, which had 2,049 fans as of July 19.
Discussion topics ranged from how best to prepare for school to which schools they turned down to come to Cornell. While some students fretted about finding roommates or buying books, some were simply excited to start their lives on the Hill.
“Can’t wait for O week!” Olivia Walton said in a post on the “Class of 2013-CALS” Facebook group.