“Help!” said the lost first-year.
The smiling sun beats down on eager first-years as they crouch to remove sticks from a trail and place them to a side. Meanwhile, other new students exert all the force of their body weight into smashing old pieces of wood with a giant sledgehammer. Finishing a hard day’s work, they are ready to relax and converse about Colorado College around a campfire with their leaders.
My co-leader and I attempted to initiate a conversation about our trippees’ worries regarding academic life at CC. As opposed to receiving questions about workload, time management, or professors, we were bombarded with basic questions: Why do I need a Gold Card? What is the point of Gold Card Plus? How do I register for classes after my FYE? What is Summit and why does my roommate keep mentioning something called “Banner?”
Though we eventually gave them answers to the above questions, we wanted to address larger-scale problems. It seems that New Student Orientation does an incredible job focusing on big picture issues like Title IX, sense of place, and academic integrity policies; however, it fails to inform students about basic CC skills. NSO should incorporate basic tips to navigate CC daily.
Two years ago, I was a first-year. Last year, I was a First-Year Experience mentor, and this year, I was an NSO Priddy Trip leader. I have been involved in NSO every year that I have been enrolled at CC, and I have watched it change each year. The college attempts to make first-years’ transitions to college as smooth as possible by making them aware of various scenarios and having conversations that will prepare them for campus life.
Nevertheless, I am concerned by the helplessness that new students feel about getting around campus on a daily basis. It would be incredibly useful to add a short, small group session which gives first-years a virtual tour of Banner, Canvas, Summit, and Microsoft Outlook. It seems incredibly trivial to a current student, but to a new student, it feels daunting not to have any idea what those applications are or how they work.
Perhaps instead of a large group tutorial, Priddy Trip Leaders or FYE mentors could be tasked with solving these issues. This could include allotting time in the NSO schedule for returning students to meet with first-years to explain the virtual platforms and how everything works, along with letting them know the difference between the dining areas on campus and La’au’s or Wooglin’s.
I feel grateful to have been part of NSO for the past three years. It makes me hopeful to watch the faculty members listen to student feedback and slightly alter the program each year. While I am certain every student could eventually figure out how to navigate the day-to-day components of life at CC, the point of NSO is to orient students. If a simple explanation of applications on the website, Gold Cards, and any other daily skill would contribute to this, it should be incorporated into NSO.