Improving the Flow of NSO: A Sophomore’s Reflection on New Student Orientation

While a first year may feel overwhelmed when they see 500 new faces trickle in slowly to our small campus, as a returning sophomore, I also felt a little like a deer in headlights. It is incredibly stressful to move into your home for the school year surrounded by these hundreds of faces you do not know. For the unfamiliar first-years, it is dumbfounding to observe interactions between returning students who seem to chat so casually and effortlessly.

I arrived on campus early for training to be an FYE mentor. While a few friendly faces passed me during NSO, I was mostly swimming in a sea of unknown faces just like the fist years. However, watching, listening, and partaking in certain NSO activities as a sophomore allowed me to understand the purpose of NSO, which I had previously thought of as tedious and draining. While NSO is crucial to a first-year’s transition into CC, there are still possible improvements it could undergo.

Photo by Josh Birndorf

Before the Priddy trips, a large portion of NSO is spent sitting in on lectures, discussions, and presentations in toasty auditoriums or classrooms. Each required session in the auditorium surrounds an important topic: finding one’s sense of place, preventing sexual assault, building a sense of community, or learning how to succeed in academics. Each of these talks serves a purpose. Yet, at the same time, they are all given within a four-day period. Each is also approximately two hours. One could argue that it gives students a glimpse into the block plan; they’re expected to take in a lot of information in a short amount of time. Between the amount of information they are expected to retain, long hours,  and frantic energy of meeting new classmates, it is not reasonable to expect anyone to be able to pay full attention to these lectures.

It would be more beneficial and enjoyable to have some lighter material thrown in amongst all these long lectures. I loved my Priddy trip experience, and I enjoyed some of the activities we did during NSO. However, Priddy Trip groups are not the only collective first-years could be meeting with. A larger emphasis could be placed on the First Year Experience groups. First-years meet with their FYE once for a book discussion, for about an hour. Some had their professors present while some did not. When I was a first year, my FYE allowed me to fully transition into school. I succeeded because I was able to ask questions, complete group work, and communicate with my professors more easily. In order for an FYE course to be successful, the class must establish a group dynamic in the early stages, but that takes much longer if the students have not gotten a chance to interact extensively prior to the first day of class.

While every event during NSO has an intended purpose, each event may not necessarily fulfill this purpose. If the talks were not all lengthy and in large groups, they would be more successful. Perhaps some of the presentations and talks could be broken off into smaller group discussions between FYE classmates. There must be a better way to provide students with the information Colorado College is relaying. CC is a school that often partakes in experiential learning. It is rare for a class to simply sit and listen to a lecture. Blocks will venture on field trips, attend an on campus workshop or performance, or even fly to a different country or state. While the Priddy trip does reflect this adventurous spirit to an extent, there is still room for growth within the NSO program.

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