Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if orientation wasn’t the WORST.
By Katelynn Browne
It’s safe to agree that freshman year is the absolute worst (apologies to any freshmen reading this, but it is for many). I think a lot of this has to do with the high expectations set by parents/older people and The Media™ who told you for years that college is going to be “the best time of your life”, a perception that is usually crushed within the first few months of getting here. Of course, a lot of us don’t really expect that things will be perfect, but the idea of what college should be is one that still persists, consciously or subconsciously.
I think that colleges can do a lot more in order to alleviate what freshman year ultimately becomes – a time in one’s life that is ultimately marked by strange socialization, loneliness, confusion, and a general uncertainty about one’s purpose and future. What irks me the most when reflecting on my freshman year is when I think about how lonely and isolated I felt from others, and how I felt that I was the only person experiencing this. Every time I looked on social media, I saw pictures of people from dorms hanging out in massive packs and going out every weekend, while I sat quietly watching in my childhood bedroom, feeling unwanted and unsure how to connect. What I didn’t know at the time, though, was that those people were feeling just as isolated and desperate to make friends as I was. And hardly anyone talks about this!
If you talk to pretty much anyone who hasn’t been an orientation leader, the consensus regarding orientation is that it fucking sucks. I feel like orientation is such a missed opportunity for people to make genuinely good friendships and lasting connections if it was just structured in a way that facilitated better friend-making and socializing. Although some few, lucky people do make really good friends through their orientation groups, I think that most people end up parting ways with their orientation friends within a semester or two, with some people not even acknowledging their old orientation friends. So many freshmen hang out with their orientation groups out of fear of not knowing anyone, despite not really clicking with their orientation friends.
So how could we make orientation a better place to meet people? I think that if the school devised some kind of system that could match people based on interests and formed orientation groups that way, rather than randomly selecting 12 people would be one interesting way to start. Orientation leaders are really good at reminding freshmen the importance of joining clubs, but I think many students don’t really realize how important it is to be a part of clubs until you’re in one where you actually connect with people well and feel like you’re part of a community. I think that it could be good to have a separate club fair during orientation and require freshmen to join something. I know people don’t want to be forced to do anything but I think it could increase the likelihood of freshmen finding their communities in college earlier, rather than later.
That being said, I think the most important thing is to put yourself out there and try a bunch of clubs and meet as many people as you can. You never know who might be super rad, or even your best friend for life. I know it’s easier said than done, but do the best you can and know that if you’re feeling lonely, it’ll pass! It’s just a matter of time 🙂