Tips for Getting Involved in New Student Orientation from an OL

An orientation leader (OL) is given the important task of meeting new freshmen and providing insight of what life is like at the University and encouraging campus involvement.

Junior Rachel Conners had the privilege of being an OL for the past two years and said that it is a positive experience for the leader and students alike. 

She wanted to give something back to the University, a home away from home. “I had an overwhelmingly positive experience at my orientation, and I wanted to be part of the process of giving the fun experience I had to other students,” said Conners. “I was also interested in being there for students who were more apprehensive about Monmouth or college in general. There is nothing more rewarding than making someone’s day or making a person feel at home at a place you love, so that was what ultimately led me to apply for the position.” 

This involves more than being there for students. Being a positive role model is of the utmost importance for all groups during the two day programs.  The difficult aspect of this is that while the groups of students rotate from week to week, activities can get repetitive for the leader.

“Orientation is essentially repetitive for the orientation leaders in that the schedule remains the same but the students are obviously different for each session. Keeping things interesting, fun, high-energy, and creative was a challenge we all faced at the start of a new session as it wasn’t all that new to us,” said  Conners.

All of the students are split into teams with two leaders each, determining where they will participate in various activities. Some of these include “I Got Involved” which highlights the many clubs and extra-curricular opportunities available. Icebreakers are used to get to know other students in the incoming freshman class and better familiarize themselves with the campus environment for the fall term.

“The New Student Orientation Program traditionally consists of six two-day sessions in which there are six color groups of first year students that a pair of OL’s guide throughout their stay,” said Conners.

She added that OLs serve as role model students and educate the new incoming class all while making their first experience at the University unforgettable.

The Orientation Staff hosts activities and sessions with their group of students throughout the two days to assist in the transition from high school to college. They are encouraged to be empowered, engaged members of the campus community and to explore new opportunities.

Programs and activities include fun games as well as informational tours and sessions to make students aware of campus resources such as First Year Advising, the Writing Center, Career Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Off Campus and Commuter Services, Residential Life, and Monmouth University Police. Food is provided and students can make their schedule with Student Advising according to Conners. 

Other major issues include students’ misconceptions about college and how to overcome them.   This is a constant challenge each week for the team as each group presents different concerns ranging to work load, activities and more.

Conners, who was a freshman at the new student orientation program a few years ago is well aware of this. Students may even begin to learn about themselves during the program well before the academic term begins.

“Occasionally new students have misconceptions about what college is going to be like from stories they have heard from those already attending school or even from television and movies,” said Conners. “It was our job to be honest about what a Monmouth experience is like and to point out what is accurate and inaccurate about their expectations.”

She added that each student has specific concerns and worries but common perceptions about college are that it is a lot of fun and also a time to find oneself.

“Also, some students think it is going to be an overwhelming amount of homework, which it can be at times, but nothing accepted students can’t handle with a little help from the Center for Student Success and other resources on campus,” said Conners.

Conners has gained a lot of experience giving back to the University as an orientation leader the past two summers, but it is the reward of starting new students off on a positive path to their college experience that is the greatest.