A group of orientation leaders pose for a photo during Orientation outside Zoellner Arts Center. Orientation leaders are responsible for helping first-year students transition into college life at Lehigh. (Courtesy of Clarissa Chun)

First-year students reflect on orientation

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As returning students begin to establish routines after the first few weeks of school, many first-year students are starting to feel more at home in their new environments. 

First-year students are provided with resources like orientation and NavigateLU to ease the transition to college. 

Orientation is a four-day experience during which orientation leaders lead groups of first-year students. 

Jill Mahony, ‘23, said she appreciates seeing and greeting friendly faces from her orientation group around campus.

Mahony said orientation is a good time to establish connections. She compared the first year of college to kindergarten, where everyone is feeling the same thing and wants to make new friends. 

“During orientation, introduce yourself to anyone,” said Mahony, “Everyone wants to make friends during this time.” 

Keilly Kirkpatrick, ‘23,  said Lehigh felt like home by the end of the first day of orientation.

“I loved meeting new people and (orientation) made me learn the campus really fast,” she said. “The activities were sometimes silly, but they made me close with people, and they were actually fun.” 

Mahony said all of the upperclassmen are welcoming. Similarly, Kirkpatrick said she felt welcomed into the campus community. 

“I did not feel out of place, or like I did not belong,” Kirkpatrick said. “I immediately felt like Lehigh was home.”

Orientation leader Clarissa Chun, ‘22, also enjoyed her orientation experience.

She said the few days of orientation were the best experience she has had at Lehigh. 

“The whole group of orientation leaders wants to be there for a reason,” Chun said. “People from all different backgrounds in the Lehigh community came together, and to be able to connect so well is really comforting.” 

Chun said orientation leaders trained last semester and for a week before orientation started. The week consisted of days as long as 13 hours. Chun said the first-years receive increased schedule freedom as the four days of orientation progress.

She said she loved her fellow orientation leaders and the students she worked with. She said that she got close with the other orientation leaders by spending a lot of time with them during the extensive training periods. 

Even after orientation finished, both first-years and orientation leaders stay connected through NavigateLU. 

NavigateLU is part of the first-year experience programming, set up by the Office of First-Year Experience. It has replaced the EvoLUtion seminar first-year students used to participate in. 

During NavigateLU, first-year students meet with a faculty or staff collaborator, and upperclassman peer collaborator and attend 5×10 programming. 

Students are able to pick their faculty advisers online, giving first-year students some freedom in the transitional program. In addition, students can meet with their orientation leader individually or in a group setting.

Chun said this replaced the classroom atmosphere in EvoLUtion. 

“People open up more when you meet individually,” Chun said. “It is not like a classroom setting. I had lunch for an hour with one of my first-years, and it was really nice catching up and making sure that everything was going well.” 

Kirkpatrick said she felt comfortable in her new home because of the support and resources provided. 

“Lehigh is just the best experience I have had so far, and I have only been here for two weeks,” Kirkpatrick said. “It is so amazing, and I am so glad to be a part of this experience.”

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