Before our first year even begins, Colgate University has us thinking about our future. Required tasks, like writing an introductory essay to our advisors and viewing the “My Student Body” modules on alcohol, drugs and sexual assault, provide the incoming class with opportunities to consider what they are looking for from their college experience. In return, Colgate does its best to prepare students for their time in this unfamiliar environment.
Pre-orientation programs are provided to help students pursue an interest or become acquainted with some classmates before being thrown into the mix of the 750+ new faces comprising their class. For some, pre-orientation may be where they meet their future best friend.
First-year orientation itself is just a whirlwind of information. It kind of felt like the organizers asked how much information they could throw at us newbies in a five-day period and then went with that as a plan. On our first full day at Colgate (second day of orientation), us first-years rotated through sessions on two of the four following topics: assumptions and realities of college drinking, digital citizenship, sexual harassment policy session and The ’Gate Way. The rotations were followed by an hour-long discussion about our required summer reading, a class meeting introducing us to Colgate’s history and traditions, a cappella performances and two-and-a-half hours of class-wide icebreaker games in the gym. Although my day hadn’t started until the 11:30 brunch with my Link group, I was exhausted. There was so much information and a bombardment of new names that I couldn’t dream of remembering the next day. The third day was just as busy with another rotation, Dr. Maura Cullen discussing the different facets of diversity, meeting our first-year seminar (FSEM) professor for the first time and listening to powerful stories of current Colgate students.
While I understand that all the different rotations and events are supposed to help us get a better sense of the Colgate community and what to expect from college life, I’m not sure they are structured in the best way. After talking with Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown, I learned that the main changes to first-year orientation were one extra day of orientation and the addition of new ‘Gate Way modules. I think there’s some clear merit to The ’Gate Way videos, but how we were first subjected to them (excluding the emails we all ignored) was in a crowded section of The Edge Café where people could barely see and hear the videos. It was my Link group’s first rotation; the combination of barely knowing the people around me and not having any real information to discuss caused The ‘Gate Way videos implemented this year to lose their intended effect. There is a lot of good information one can gain from the videos, ranging from academic advice to social situation tips, but they only work when used in the proper setting.
Colgate University works to acclimate its first-years and prepare them for college and their future life. Our FSEM professors/advisors are there to help us gain the writing skills and social skills to navigate our classes. Upperclassmen Links and Community Leaders are provided to help us with social problems and give us a student’s point of view and experience. Being at a liberal arts school, it is clear that Colgate University is striving to create conscientious students who are well equipped intellectually and socially for the future – and this should start with first-year orientation.