New student orientation prioritizes student and family needs

The over-the-top new student orientation GW formerly hosted was unwelcoming. Parades of orientation leaders went above and beyond to prepare freshmen for their first days in Foggy Bottom, but the needs of students were not met through Colonial Inauguration.

Starting this summer, students will be more comfortable and prepared for their first year in college thanks to positive changes that GW made to its new student orientation.

GW’s new program swaps the eight orientation sessions that were spread over the summer to one session held the week before classes start.

The old model was troublesome because it put an additional financial burden on students and their families who are already making sacrifices to send their students to an expensive private college. In addition to the financial stress caused by the former freshmen orientation program, the old program did not facilitate a broad sense of community for incoming students – but GW’s new system will luckily combat these issues by boosting class camaraderie and reducing extra costs.

Hosting orientation at several different times during the summer places a large financial burden on students and their families. When I attended CI, I had to fly out to D.C. from my home in Minnesota which tacked on a few hundred dollars only to spend a few days in information sessions and registering for classes. I did not find the orientation particularly helpful, so the added cost without much benefit was a burden for my family that is already struggling to foot the bill for GW’s expensive tuition.

Plus the change to orientation won’t just financially benefit students – the University will benefit too. Rather than paying orientation leaders’ salaries and covering their housing costs all summer, GW will likely save on the event by pushing it to a single week because leaders will have less time required on campus.

In addition to saving both students and GW money, the orientation will more aptly serve its purpose. The new orientation will bring the entire freshman class together instead of splitting them up into groups of a few hundred students, which particularly benefits international students who formerly were all grouped together in one session before the start of the year.

Another goal of orientation is to get new students familiar with GW and the District. However, housing students in random freshman residence halls during orientation instead of their actual living assignments is highly ineffective. During my orientation, I stayed in Thurston Hall even though I was assigned to live on the Mount Vernon Campus, so when I arrived for the fall semester I was unfamiliar with the Vern and its facilities. If I spent the week before school in my room on the Vern, I would have headed into my first week of freshman year more confident, and luckily incoming freshmen next academic year will have that luxury.

By mimicking the rest of the year and hosting students in the residence halls they will spend the next several months in, students will make lasting connections and be more prepared for success in their first year. The new orientation also takes away an additional financial burden on families and it is encouraging that administrators have shifted an event that is integral to GW for students’ benefit.

Colette Bruder, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

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