The Office of First-Year Experience hosted an in-person orientation for first-year students this August, contrasting with last year’s program which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lehigh’s OFYE works to acclimate first-years to Lehigh through its orientation program, which provides seminars to introduce students to the university while creating a place for them to make connections.
Grace Hogan, ‘25, said orientation was a great experience, allowing her to meet a lot of different people and preparing her to start her Lehigh career.
“You really acclimate before classes start and you feel like you have a sense of home very early on,” Hogan said. “You develop so many connections that are really helpful socially and academically, and orientation just made my experience overall really positive.”
Orientation leaders were also enthusiastic about being back in person.
Orientation leader Bridget Keele, ‘23, said because of last year’s online format, it was difficult to make real connections with her first-years. With the return to in-person programming, however, she said it was easier to engage with her students and they found it easier to connect with one another.
Keele said orientation is an important part of starting one’s college experience.
“You are coming into a huge college not knowing anything, so us having mandatory activities and programs really allows first-years to learn what they need to when they start at Lehigh,” Keele said. “It is also just a good way to meet people.”
Orientation leader Tanner Lehr, ‘23, said orientation is paramount in transitioning to Lehigh and he was happy to play a role in helping students adjust to the new environment.
“Being able to create in-person relationships with my first-year students is something that I am thankful for, and being able to see my first-years connect with each other also put a smile on my face,” Lehr said.
Orientation featured seminars from Break The Silence, a peer education organization that aims to spread awareness about gender violence and Peer Health Advisors, an organization of trained students who provide peer-to-peer support and resources to promote healthy behavior.
Some Lehigh first-years also chose to participate in PreLUsion, a pre-orientation program.
Hogan participated in the Lehigh Women Engineers PreLUsion program, where she got to meet professors and learn more about the details of her major. She said she recommends taking advantage of PreLUsion because it introduced her to many resources she didn’t know were available to her.
Keele said orientation leaders rose up to face challenges this year, whether it was making sure all first-years were where they needed to be or ensuring they received the support they needed.
Keele said the orientation staff was excited to be back and that, overall, their optimistic energy rubbed off on everyone.
“Given the fact that it was in person after COVID, we were expecting challenges, and I think it was dealt with the best way it could be,” Keele said.