Freshmen at ori­en­tation. Courtesy | Haley Strack

Beloved Asso­ciate Dean of Men Jeffrey “Chief” Rogers had wise words for freshmen at ori­en­tation: “Here you will learn and grow in your identity. This causes you to stop looking around and, instead, to look up.” Chief’s words struck me — but they were lost in the first few days of ori­en­tation due to the full schedule and busy moments.

Freshman ori­en­tation at any college could vary from a won­derful time to an over­whelming expe­rience. Hillsdale does a phe­nomenal job of explaining the purpose of a liberal arts edu­cation, self-gov­er­nance, and genuine rela­tion­ships. However, darting from lec­tures to large social events can some­times make a nervous freshman wonder how she could pos­sibly succeed in those areas. Inten­tional, calmer moments may allow freshmen to relax and feel more com­fortable in their new home. 

While filled with valuable content, the packed schedule of tours, lec­tures, meals, and meetings make stu­dents feel drained and dis­heartened because of the stark con­trast between them­selves and upper­classmen. This con­trast felt espe­cially present at Hillsdale’s Welcome Party. Sur­rounded by people who seem to know everyone, one freshman felt like a fish out of water: lost in an unfa­miliar environment.

Nat­u­rally, these feelings are common for freshmen. But Hillsdale could ease these feelings by giving new freshmen time to simply meet each other. Hall game nights or more dorm activ­ities could allow moments of rest and reflection, reducing the shock of large social events.

As they leave family, friends, hometown churches, and old schools, every student must decide what their “Hillsdale” iden­tities will be. Pur­pose­fully giving oppor­tu­nities for quieter moments could teach freshmen to reserve time for per­sonal devotion or godly fel­lowship with others and also ease them into the routine of classes. 

Freshman ori­en­tation is a dif­ferent expe­rience for every person — but each student shares the common expe­rience of learning to govern their lives. How they will define them­selves is sub­jective, but the process has already begun. Hillsdale should assist stu­dents with an ori­en­tation schedule that reminds them to look up.