Ohio University junior Grace Fowler remembers her initial nerves during her adjustment to the college environment. Bobcat Student Orientation leaders welcomed her and fellow students while guiding them through the transition.
When Fowler saw the opportunity to apply to join the orientation team, she did not hesitate.
“I remember in my orientation that I was very stressed, and everyone was super helpful. If I can help ease those nerves and make people excited to come here, then I totally want to,” Fowler said. “I remember sitting in my orientation session and thinking to myself, this is such a fun job and it would be so cool to do, and when I saw that they were hiring I immediately applied.”
Bobcat Student Orientation (BSO) is an annual event hosted by Ohio University faculty, staff, and students to help incoming students prepare to enter college. The event takes place throughout the month of June.
Fowler started as an orientation leader in January 2020 and supported a fully-online BSO program in summer 2020, as many programs and events went virtual as a result of the global pandemic.
“Throughout the program, I got to know so many people and made connections with the new students as well,” said Fowler, who is studying integrated media.
Bobcat Student Orientation leaders are critical to the success of OHIO’s orientation programs. They work tirelessly to help new Bobcats with their transition. Orientation leaders represent each academic college, lead activities and discussions, and help incoming students register for classes.
“They spend a lot of time sharing their own experiences with students, talking about classes that they have taken and student organizations that they have been involved with. They share what is most meaningful to their own experiences so that new students can find a place where they see themselves,” said Director of Undergraduate Orientation Programs Vincent Prior.
It was after an encounter with a fellow Bobcat while travelling home to New Hampshire that Ellie Burke realized she wanted to apply as an orientation leader.
“I was in the Boston airport, of all places, wearing my Scripps College of Communication t-shirt when someone came up to me and they were like, ‘are you a Bobcat?’” Burke said. “We talked for 20 minutes about the Bobcat family and how special Athens is. Then I came back to campus and saw the hiring poster.”
Burke applied and was hired as an orientation leader and is now in her third year as an orientation leader. She has enjoyed working with new students and their families and guests.
“This position has taught me more about myself and who I want to be,” Burke said. “It has taught me how to be more independent and confident in myself.”
This summer Bobcat Student Orientation will include virtual and in-person events and options for students and their families.
The orientation experience has been expanded to include three phases. Phase 1 includes pre-orientation modules that will be released to students in May. The live event in June with an option of attending virtually or in-person is the second phase. Programs have been shortened to one day to help ensure the safety of participants with regard to COVID-19 protocols. Finally, Phase 3 will take place in July as a post-orientation module experience.
“Our work has just changed mediums but stayed the same,” Prior said. “When we are connecting with students potentially in a virtual format, our purpose and goals are still the same. We want them to connect with the campus, be prepared for their new semester, and feel like they are part of the community.”