Orientation can help many first-year students adjust to college life, and Keene State College utilizes its student body to provide a better orientation; It’s a program for students, by students.
Nathan Flyzik, Orientation coordinator, expects 1,200 students to attend the KSC Orientation Program this year. The Orientation programs utilizes current students as group leaders to introduce prospective students to the KSC campus and student life. Matt Schmidt, Transition Case Manager, saidt KSC orientation leaders understand all of the resources available to help students make connections and strive to provide support to students during the orientation session, and even afterwards. KSC orientation leaders are students and they know how important that first impression of a school is. They remember how they felt at orientation and can share the the pros and the cons of the school.
“First impressions are important relationships, are important [in general.] The data shows that if a student can have six positive relationships on campus, the chances of them staying and being successful are high, and one of those first relationship is an orientation leader,” Schmidt shared.
“I believe orientation is very important, and no matter what student comes in, even if they are very familiar with higher education, or KSC… Our orientation program has some core things we want to emphasize. One main point is connecting with other students and the community here at Keene State. That can mean a lot to new students, just making sure they know somebody. Making connections in terms of having somebody you can go to for anything is very important.,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said that the success of the orientation program depends upon the orientation leaders and that orientation leader training is an ever growing process. In the past, orientation leaders had very little training. Schmidt explained that today, our orientation leaders are hired in October so they know the KSC staff and are acclimated with each other by December. Then by January, they have four or five training sessions where they get everyone trained on what it means to be an orientation leader, and know all the resources available to them.
Flyzik said that KSC aims to have 48 leaders hired for orientation. This includes five assistants that help with the backdrop of the program, eight cluster leaders and two coordinators.
It’s fairly difficult to become an O-leader, but Flyzik explained it’s a lot of fun. Flyzik said, “We have info sessions at the beginning of the semester, starting around September or October. Potential leaders run through some exercises with us as a group to see how different people work in a group. From there, we ask some people back for an individual interview. The interview is with me or the other orientation coordinator and from there, we make our selections. We then hold our welcome meeting in December.”
“We look for a pretty broad personality profile. I think a lot of people think we want extroverts. We do but, we also want a good balance of people. We look for extroverts, introverts, and anything in-between,” Flyzik said.
Collin Coviello, senior KSC biology student, said, “I think that the orientation leaders do a great job supporting first-year students and making them comfortable.”
Flyzik explained many of the orientation leaders continue to have friendships with students from their orientation groups for years to come. Personal satisfaction and feeling that you are helping others is a big reason Flyzik became an orientation leader. “I was a orientation leader my first year at Keene, and I loved it. I continue to love doing this job. On top of that, I have a lot of fun and meet the entire staff. I’d say you are fairly close to all the people you work with on staff. We like to say we are a family,” Flyzik said.
Austin Cook can be contacted at email@example.com