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Students Helping Students
Whether you were a bowl of cereal, a flavor of Snapple, or a type of car, most people remember the theme of their orientation group, and more often than not, they remember the faithful orientation leaders who helped ease their transition into Quinnipiac.
Cheryl Barnard, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Coordinator of the Orientation program said, the program is a way “to have peers helping peers make a successful transition to University life.”
“It gets them (incoming freshman) acclimated to the campus, to academics and allows them to meet fellow classmates prior to their arrival in August,” Barnard said.
Becoming an “OL” is not as easy as one would think and is often quite competitive.
“The OLs go through an extensive selection process,” Barnard said. “They first have an individual interview with one of the student affairs professional staff and then they all go through a group process session to see how they interact with other people.”
The office of Student Affairs takes a lot of time to compile a group of students who will help make the incoming freshman feel comfortable and relaxed.
“It’s pretty competitive,” senior Katie Doyle, physical therapy major said. “One hundred or so applicants and only 50 are accepted.”
During orientation future students learn about academics, take placement tests, and learn rules and regulations, but Orientation Leaders help students feel comfortable in the new setting and help make the change into college life.
“I think it’s good for the freshman, not only during the orientation but when they come back in the fall,” Doyle said. “A recognizable face is good wherever you go that is new.”
Orientation leaders are not paid for their services; however, most OLs agree the experience is priceless.
Santo Galatioto, fifth year business student, was an orientation leader his sophomore to senior year.
“The incentive for me was meeting new people. I loved my orientation and I loved meeting new people. As an OL, it gives you a chance to meet the new freshman and help them out,” Galatioto said.
“When I came for my orientation weekend I didn’t want to leave because I had so much fun,” Doyle said. “I wanted to be one of those crazy wacky kids.”
Staff and students work together to try to make orientation a pleasure and exciting time for future students by having social activities such as mixers, group bonding activities, ice breakers, and basically just mingling with future friends.
Orientation leader Adriana Palella, senior nursing student, said, “It is an individual process. Every new freshman takes whatever they want out of each program.”
“There’s different activities that involve more thought than others do but they are all aimed to get the incoming freshman acclimated to the school and to meet other students in their class,” Palella said.
The main reason for having orientation is to allow future student to start up their social life, but it also allows the Orientation Staff to become closer and make memories.
“I like to come back and see my friends and roommates,” Doyle said. “It’s good to meet new people every year.”
Often, the leaders interact so closely with the members of their groups they keep in touch and help guide them through their first year and on.
“I try to keep up with them, especially for the first few months,” Doyle said. “They let go when they want to.”
Orientation leaders meet tons of new students during each orientation and with the number of freshman growing so it can be hard to keep in touch.
“I try to, but it is hard because sometimes there are 15 kids each week times three weeks but I send them all emails and if they email back I talk to them more,” Galatioto said.
It seems that orientation leaders leave such good impressions on their incoming freshman that it encourages them to be OLs too.
Junior Melissa Carter, journalism and accounting major, planned on being an OL from the start, and has made close bonds with her OL, Andrew Chin. Their friendship has become closer since she became an orientation leader too, Carter said.
“I knew I wanted to be an OL from the first day I came for freshman orientation, it was just something I knew I had to do,” Carter said. “I had kind of a gut feeling and it’s been nothing short of amazing.”
Orientation leaders truly leave marks on the students they have led, even years after orientation one can reminisce about their orientation group and recall the friendliness of their leader.
“My one piece of advice for freshman going to orientation is to treat it with an open mind and try to stay away from the cliques because in college it just isn’t like that,” Carter said.