New Service Orientation
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 02:01
As spring rolls around and Georgetown’s New Student Orientation leadership team begins planning activities for the Class of 2017, organizers would benefit from a new line of thinking about potential improvements to the orientation program for incoming freshmen.
NSO coordinators and advisers have been rightly praised for their commitment to making new students feel welcome on the Hilltop, and the program itself is successful — to a point. But a few changes would foster more cross-campus connection and add a depth of meaning to the orientation experience.
Instead of grouping freshmen with students from their dorms, the assortment should be more random. Living in the same building or on the same floor creates a natural likelihood for association, and by grouping students based on where they live, NSO misses a valuable opportunity to introduce students less likely to cross paths. And the size of a typical NSO group would make it likely that at least two or more members will live in the same building.
More critically, students are unmotivated by the social pull of NSO’s forced bonding activities and end up only grudgingly attending or skipping them altogether. While the program’s social events are impressive in scope, they require significant time and resources and draw in most new students for only brief periods of time.
NSO leadership should consider a fundamental overhaul of its programming in the form of a new service-based dimension to the activities scheduled throughout the week. Orientation groups could take on small projects on campus and in the District, giving freshmen the opportunity to bond over meaningful work rather than another sequence of awkward icebreakers. Moreover, such programming would illustrate to newcomers the value of service and the potential for impact, as well as the importance of community involvement to Georgetown’s core values.
While playing games like Ninja or Pterodactyl can help timid first-years break out of their shells, NSO would benefit from incorporating the type of activities that orient new students toward the true nature of the Georgetown experience.