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First-year files: Orientation eases the transition

August 30th, 2022

Transitioning from high school to college, or middle school to boarding school, is a big adjustment. Students move from the familiar routine of living at home and attending school nearby to a completely new and unfamiliar world, often pushing them out of their comfort zone. Luckily, nearly all new college and boarding school students are in the same boat.

In today’s blog post, Lilly, a previous Shrop Ed advisee, shares her experience as an incoming first-year at Boston College. Lilly’s reflection on BC’s summer orientation program reminds us to keep an open mind, seek connections with others and participate in campus activities. This will certainly help students navigate challenges ahead.

Boston, USA – December 23, 2021: View of Gasson Hall at Boston College, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Image via Istock

Lilly’s first-year orientation experience from Boston College is shared below … and we’re grateful for her willingness to write for our blog. We wish Lilly and all of our advisees a great academic year ahead!

After my high school graduation in early June, I had only 11 days until my College Orientation. Not much travel was required since my college happens to be less than a mile from my house. Nonetheless, college is still an entirely new and unfamiliar world into which I am entering. 

Upon arrival at the Thomas Moore Apartments (the sophomore dorms in which we stayed), I was instantly greeted by numerous kind Orientation Leaders. They are current students at Boston College who were there to answer any questions anyone might have. The lobby was crowded, as dozens of rising freshmen and their parents buzzed around, getting room cards and information pamphlets. Some formed small groups and talked amongst themselves, while others nervously clung to their parents as they did in elementary school. 

Despite being a social person who doesn’t usually struggle with meeting new people, I was still nervous entering this situation, and wondered if others felt the same way. I stayed in a 6-person suite with 5 very nice girls. The girl I shared a room with and I instantly ‘clicked,’ and she introduced me to her roommate for next year who is a nursing student like me. Right off the bat, I felt lucky and relaxed to have made new friends so quickly – it set a positive tone for the rest of the orientation. On the evening of our first day, we divided into groups of ten, which would be our “Small Groups” for the rest of the orientation. In our small groups we participated in ice breakers, shared where we were from and what our majors were. Just among our group of ten, we were from as close as a few towns over, and as far as Los Angeles, California. Also everywhere in between, such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Philadelphia. Our career paths varied just as much, with majors such as nursing, finance, psychology, biochemistry, and marketing. We shared our nervousness and excitement, reassured about the fact that we were feeling similar emotions.

Throughout the orientation, our Small Group leaders introduced us to numerous resources we could access as students such as tutoring services, writing centers, and advisors to answer all of our questions. Over the course of the next few days, our small group interacted with other groups, and thus I met a lot of new people. There were large seminars as well, where we met some teachers and learned about the ‘Core Curriculum.’  We also learned more about the values of Boston College, such as leadership, sense of possibility, and student centered approach. The goal is for each individual to choose a career path of meaning and impact. 

There was a concurrent parent orientation program. For my parents, this orientation was very different from their experience with my older sister. She started at BC in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Nothing was in-person. Even her move-in was limited to a solitary 15 minute window. I could immediately sense how much they enjoyed being part of an in-person orientation. They enjoyed meeting other parents and especially the communal mass to celebrate the start of our BC journey.

In one of my favorite seminars, the story of ‘The Man with the Red Bandana’ was told. I have known about Welles Crowther’s heroics since a young age, but hearing it told in this setting was very moving. If you have not heard this story, I strongly recommend you look it up, because it is an incredibly powerful, real-life story of a BC alumnus who truly represents BC’s core value: service to others. Hearing it again reminded me, yet again, why I chose to attend BC.

We also registered for classes. First, we were divided into groups based on our majors, so I was in a “nursing” group of about 20 students. Several nursing professors presented a slideshow about our courses, explained the registration process, and then circulated the room as we worked on our schedule drafts. The next day those draft schedules were made official as we actually registered for our classes. The process was organized and help was there if needed. 

In between seminars, group meetings, and games, we walked around and familiarized ourselves with the lay-out of campus. When school begins in the fall, I will recognize many familiar faces and feel more comfortable making the transition knowing that I’m not alone and I have many resources to help me along the way. I am most excited to continue to meet new people as I explore this new chapter of my life.