Our view: on the topic of orientation

Lots of Kent State students complain about their freshman orientation – or at least they did before the change. It’s too soon to see if students will still have complaints about the course. In the mean time, here are some suggestions from the editorial board.

• Rachel Abbey

President Lester Lefton’s idea to assign a discussion topic to every class is a good one. The courses that students remember are the ones that challenge them and allow them to express themselves.

In my class, we discussed the principles of journalism in between talks about campus rules and regulations. The professor covered the requirements, such as how to find my way around the library and where to eat on campus, but he didn’t let those topics take over the course. Orientation does need to address those basics, boring as they may be. But when students can get more than just the basics from their orientation class, it makes it beneficial and worth their time. Those discussions are what drove our class and made it memorable.

• Timothy Magaw

With the revamping of freshman orientation, cough cough, I mean colloquium, comes the opportunity to change the way the university thinks about introducing fresh new faces to the university. Instead of the stupid icebreakers and pizza parties I’m used to seeing in our residence halls, I’d like to see worthwhile discussion about issues students care most about.

Last semester, I was a guest speaker in one of the experimental Flash Topic courses on the 1960s. We were talking about music of the anti-war movement, and I think everyone in the class had something to say. This was the type of discussion I longed for in my orientation class, and I hope that’s what the university is going for in its goal to get first-year students academically engaged.

• Bryan Wroten

The point of orientation, now called colloquium, is to offer freshmen a chance to get to know this university. Moving on to higher education is a gigantic step in students’ lives, especially those who will be living away from home for the first time.

Focusing the colloquiums on a certain topic will keep the classes on track. If there are more classes that focus on academic majors, that’s a great way to introduce students to their future studies. They can get an overview of how their school works and what they’ll need to succeed in their studies, graduate and get a decent internship and/or job.

My experience with orientation was positive. My class focused on journalism, had the Stater’s adviser for the instructor and introduced me to a number of my current friends. My class worked because we were there not only because we had a requirement to fill, but because we all had a common interest.

• Theresa Bruskin

Though I dreaded going to orientation because it seemed pointless at the time, I now appreciate some of what we did. Having help with scheduling classes for the first time saved me some agony, and it was nice to have somewhere to go to touch base. But I also agree that the class would have been much more bearable if it had had a point.

And I do have one major qualm. As a double major, it would have been especially helpful to be in an orientation class with other students in my situation. Then that one hour a week could have been instruction on how to juggle both majors, where to go for advising and how to survive the demands of two disciplines. Instead, I learned a lot about one and nothing about the other. If the class had focused on that, even though no one was studying the exact same thing, we would have gotten a lot more out of it.

• Tyrel Linkhorn

I wouldn’t say my experience in freshman orientation was bad; we had a good time and learned some about the history of the university and did a few exercises specific to our individual majors within the College of Communication and Information.

Still, it was lacking. Our faculty instructor wasn’t readily available. Our student instructor was nice, but not particularly helpful or knowledgeable, and most of what we did was very basic. So let’s hope they’ve got it right now. Let’s go beyond library tours and Week of Welcome version 2.0. Add discussion. Add guests. Give us an idea of the future we can expect in our majors. Give the course a specific direction or goal. It will benefit the students more and be a much more valuable use of faculty time.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.