How Becoming an Orientation Leader Changed Me
Orientation has allowed me to meet some of my closest friends.
A little over three years ago, I stepped onto Arcadia’s campus for the first time, not knowing what to expect. My head was spinning with questions on my first day of fall orientation: Did I have the social abilities to make friends? Would I have fun? Would I like this new place?
But a lot has changed since August 2015. I wish I could speak highly of my first orientation experience, but truth is, I didn’t really give orientation a chance as an incoming first-year. I came to Arcadia with a “too-cool-for-school” attitude that haunted me throughout my senior year of high school, and I couldn’t shake this mindset until the end of my first semester of college. At fall orientation, I did not want to participate, I didn’t make instant connections in my group, and I wasn’t interested in ice breakers or getting to know my peers.
After a semester of academic troubles and minimal social interaction, one of my only friends at school somehow convinced me to go to a meeting to learn more about becoming an orientation leader. I went, but I can’t say I showed any real interest in becoming an OL. The sole action of introducing myself to a room full of strangers and stating my name, major, and hometown was enough to make me nauseous.
Having a positive impact on new students is one of the most rewarding parts about being an Orientation Leader.
As the OL application deadline neared, I decided that I was not going to apply. But then something crazy happened: I was working on my computer and an ad popped up on Youtube about vulnerability— and how it is necessary to experience it to grow.
Allowing myself to be vulnerable in front of others seemed impossible. Still, the feeling of letting my hair down (despite having a near-buzz cut at the time) and just speaking to others about myself and my school was quite comforting, so I threw caution to the wind and I applied.
Fast-forward a few years: This remains one of the most bold decisions of my college career, and I’m so proud of it. Like the ad on YouTube suggested, I found strength and power in allowing myself to be vulnerable in front of others. While working my first summer orientation day, I felt such power after getting on a stage and speaking to others about the exact thing I was afraid of a few months before. I found comfort in my insecurities, and that began a series of “wins” for me, including locking down an internship and finding new roommates to live with off campus.
You may not think you would be a good orientation leader. But if you’re interested in self-growth, pushing your limits, inspiring others, being inspired yourself, or meeting new people, I suggest you give being an OL a chance. The work is voluntary, but rewarding— your are expected to volunteer a few of your days during the summer and about a week of your time right before the start of the fall semester. Our orientation team usually consists of 30-40 wonderful individuals who pride themselves on making a positive impact on the lives of new incoming first-year students and others.
I met some of my closest friends through my orientation experience. I have been exposed to new ways of making a difference, whether it be through showing new students the location of their first college class, or volunteering at new organizations through Arcadia’s annual Day of Service at orientation, or speaking with fellow OLs and staff to see how their days are going. Being an OL really changed my life, and you probably wouldn’t believe me unless you knew how I was before becoming one.
The Arcadia Orientation Leader application opens within the next few weeks. If you are interested in applying, email email@example.com for more information.