Out of the roughly 200 students who underwent a lengthy application process, 70 students were selected to serve as orientation advisors for incoming students in August.
Orientation advisors (OAs) lead small groups of freshmen or transfer students through a series of lectures and other planned activities, allowing them to acclimate to the college environment when they arrive to campus.
Even though orientation advisors are unpaid volunteers, the position is becoming more competitive. There were slightly more applicants this year than in previous years.
“There was a great turnout for new student orientation advisor,” said Kit Knapp, the orientation leader for Westhampton College.
The application process requires applicants to submit an application and then participate in group interviews. Applicants who reach the third round have a group interview with one of the orientation leaders.
Successful applicants are “empathetic, knowledgeable, organized, timely, great leaders, and enthusiastic about UR,” Knapp said.
Nick Murphy, an incoming orientation advisor, emphasized how his time as a freshman orientee inspired him to apply.
“I decided to become an orientation advisor because I wanted to give back that same great experience I received from my OA's,” Murphy said.
Other freshmen, however, did not have the same feelings as Murphy. Carly Kilgore described orientation as “frustrating," Corey Loftus called it “confusing” and Kirsten Avila summed up the experienced as “traumatizing.” Kilgore, Loftus and Avila did not apply to be orientation advisors.
Despite varying perspectives among freshmen orientees, all previous orientation advisors that spoke with The Collegian spoke highly about the week. Former OA Amy Alexander recommended the orientation advisor position to all freshmen whether or not they “loved or hated orientation as a new student” because “your feelings about the week should fuel you to want to make the experience better for others.”
A concern that many current students recall was having little to no free time during orientation week. Annie Bancroft called the experience blurry, while Lucy Willis remembers people feeling exhausted at the end of the week.
Orientation leaders are also busy throughout the week. Alexander recommended OAs get a watch, as one of her greatest challenges was staying on task throughout all of the activities.
In addition to the hectic schedule, orientation leaders arrive five days before the new students for training. Alexander's advice to rising OAs is to "read the entire orientation manual, get your dorm unpacked as soon as possible, be open minded, and prepare yourself for one of the best weeks of your time as a Spider!”
Orientation advisors not only want to present themselves in the best light, but want to highlight the best aspects of the school as well. Haneen Abu Al Neel, another former OA, advises the new orientation leaders to “talk about the parts you love the most… [and] show your love for this school.”
Some orientation advisors discussed having fears about getting into a situation they can’t handle and maintaining an inclusive environment for everyone in their group. Dalyan Cemaletin, a former OA, said his biggest challenge during the week had been having the time to get to know each of his orientees individually and the pressure to provide a good impression of the school to new students.
However, two new orientation advisors, Noah Maggin and Nick Murphy, believe that there are people, from their fellow orientation advisor to the orientation leaders, that would provide support if necessary.
While Murphy said he is excited for the entire process, he is especially looking forward to “Vegas Night,” an annual orientation social event in the Tyler Hanes Commons, because it is an opportunity to celebrate the completion of his orientees' transition into Richmond.
“It'll be great to have a night focused around them where they can have fun with all the friends they've made over the past week,” Murphy said.
While the process is undoubtedly long and challenging, previous orientation leaders describe it as extremely rewarding.
“I find it hard to put in words how much I loved this experience,” Alexander said. “It was one of the best experiences I've had at University of Richmond.
Contact reporter Elise Girard at email@example.com