What to expect from New Student Orientation

Media Credit: File Photo by Alexander Welling

Orientation leader Macy McClintock said this year's orientation programming aims to make the college transition less intimidating for students new to campus.

This week, thousands of freshmen and sophomores are flocking to campus after a year and a half of attending school from their computer screen.

This year’s New Student Orientation, which runs from Friday, Aug. 20 to Sunday, Aug. 29, will serve both the freshman and sophomore classes as they begin the transition to a three-dimensional GW experience. We sat down with an orientation peer adviser to hear what’s in store for students who are new to campus. 

Junior Macy McClintock, an orientation peer adviser, said this year’s orientation will both give students the logistical information they need to navigate life on campus and promote forming community with each other. 

“We really focus on promoting community and meeting people,” she said.

Sophomore students – whose only experience with GW has been in a virtual format – will participate in a lighter schedule of orientation programming focused on getting them familiar with campus and socializing with groups they may know about. Their schedule includes several campus tour activities, excursions around D.C. through the District Connections program, community sessions organized by the Multicultural Student Services Center, late night monument walks and more. 

The freshmen class can expect a more structured and information-packed orientation experience to familiarize them with all aspects of GW. Additionally, freshmen will be separated into five tracks based on their residence halls. 

“By doing tracks, we’re able to ensure that everybody can have the most intimate experience possible at sessions and make sure that everything does not get overcrowded,” she said.

Since each track will participate in activities at different times and on different days, you’ll want to check the orientation website for a detailed itinerary of your track. But there are a handful of events that all freshmen will attend together like a “fireside chat” speaker event hosted Sunday Aug. 22 which featured sociologist Eve Ewing. 

Freshmen will hear from University President Thomas LeBlanc, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Cissy Petty and several student leaders at a kick-off event in the Smith Center. 

McClintock’s students can also attend late-night movie screenings in U-yard, a picnic on the National Mall and excursions like kayaking on the Potomac River. 

District Connections, a program that organizes excursions for new students to get to know the city, will host trips like kayaking or taking a trip to the Dupont Circle farmers market. This year, sophomores are welcomed to sign-up as well.

“Students are so focused on college and beginning classes that it can be tough to find time to go and explore the city,” McClintock said. “And D.C. is obviously an amazing city that offers so much, so I think being able to offer [District Connections] in orientation programming is definitely gonna be a great start for new students.”

On Friday, each track will attend “GW: The Series,” a “mock reality” TV show that depicts scenes from life as a GW student. The event will cover topics like sexual assault, roommate conflict and balancing responsibilities.

“We make sure to focus on what would happen in a sexual assault situation, how to handle alcohol, what to do in any sort of misconduct,” McClintock said. “We make sure to focus on the heavier topics.”

McClintock said she hopes orientation will make the transition into college a little less intimidating for students new to campus and D.C.

“Coming to college and not knowing anybody can be especially intimidating,” she said. “Orientation just strives to be a place for you to really be able to meet those people and connect with people upon arriving on campus.”

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