Hanover College Triangle on
Bob Alonso, "The View from Here: Orientation, a Senior Opinion," Triangle, 14 September 1973, 5.
I have been asked to give my response and evaluation as an upperclassman to this year’s orientation program. As an upperclassman, I have had the opportunity to participate in four orientation programs and also served on the committee which planned this year’s orientation activities.
It is my opinion that it is essential to a successful freshman year (and subsequent college career) for to be exposed to the fundamental character, disposition, educational and philosophical objectives of the institution. Although answers to questions such as “Where is Classic Hall?” “Who is Dean Bonsett?” “How do I register?” and “What is a JGBCC?” are an important and necessary part of this exposure, I believe that the orientation program should have its primary purpose in helping the entering student meet and successfully cope with the many academic, intellectual and social challenges that will face him or her. Needless to say, this process of orientation and familiarization can hardly be accomplished in three hurried days of group meetings, advisor conferences and panel discussions.
Typically, freshmen arrive filled with enthusiasm. However, by the end of the year not just a few will have dropped out and a large proportion of the remainder are ready for the “sophomore slump”. It is hoped that these few days will serve not only as the new student’s physical introduction to the college but will also help the student prepare himself emotionally for the demanding intellectual experiences and intensive learning and relearning experiences he will encounter during his stay at Hanover.
Frequently, however, the emphasis appears to have been directed to making the freshman “feel at home” which precludes any work and assumes that social events and a busy schedule breeds security. Many freshmen have recognized and criticized the lack of an introduction to the idea of hard learning. The function of a college or university is to provide a place, resources and block of time in which a person has the opportunity to think about answers to those problems that lead to his development as a successful student and responsible adult. If the first impression suggests that the college is a place mainly for making and enjoying friends (albeit an important consideration), some student may never realize that they have enrolled in an institution founded primarily to promote and encourage academic and intellectual endeavors with the end purpose of developing the student into a mature, thinking adult.
The NLM format used this past year was based on the premise that freshman orientation in small groups containing a faculty member and upperclassmen is essential for meaningful interactions, helping the student to make a successful adjustment to his freshman semester on campus. The program consisted of a series of directed, though creative exercises, followed by an examination of communication techniques. It was emphasized that a person must have a share in deciding in which ways his commitment to action is meaningful; the meaning (in this case of a successful freshman semester) cannot be given to him by a faculty member, administrator or upperclassman. The group experience was a valuable one in that it permitted the development of sincere and meaningful acceptance by the individual member of the purposes of the group. It also allowed each a share in the changes and consensus which were necessary for the fulfillment of the groups, purposes. (People support: what they help create.) I hope that the student and student group each possess a belief in the value and meaningfulness of the activities which the orientation program and college makes possible for them to accept.
The amount of difficulty and the nature of the adjustments made by the freshman during the early college months remain to be seen. A certain degree of shock should be expected and desired by students entering college. Indeed, it was shown in our group discussion that freshmen expected and wanted to change and develop. Hopefully, this year’s orientation has provided a firm basis for this change and development.
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