Games on Tate Lawn

The orientation leader’s guide to crushing your first "day" at college

Orientation is right around the corner, and your Orientation leaders are excited to welcome you to campus. You’re about to get a two-day crash course on the Lees-McRae experience. Whether you’re already itching to get started or feeling overwhelmed about all the information you’re about to receive, we have some advice from our Orientation specialists to help you make the most of your first overnight stay at Lees-McRae.  

Christian Welch is a senior and a Pre-Physical Therapy major. This is her third year as an Orientation leader. 

Cameron Williams is a junior in the Wildlife Biology program. This is her second year as an Orientation leader. 

1. Do one thing that scares you  

Not everyone is comfortable meeting new people or participating in big group activities. Even if you’re usually pretty gregarious, the campus setting and fast pace of Orientation might make you nervous. But college is a time for growth and trying new things. And many other students at Orientation will be right there with you.    

“Being shy is normal,” said Welch. “We’re going to start out slow. And we don’t force anyone to do anything they aren’t comfortable with, but try to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Find one thing and be like, ‘Okay, I’m going to participate. I’m going to games on the lawn and I’m going to play a game with a group of people I don’t know.’ If you say, ‘I’m not going to play games, that’s too silly,’ you’re not going to have any fun.” 

Don’t feel like you have to do every optional activity if the thought makes you panic, but don’t let this opportunity pass you by either.  

“Be open-minded about everything,” Williams said. “I was shy and timid about being in a new place, but going to Orientation and being in the Orientation group opened me up.”   

Ask a question during one of the Q&A sessions, introduce yourself to new people, grab a s’more on Tate Lawn, join the Hemlock Trail hike…Orientation is packed with things to do. Even if it makes you nervous, dedicate yourself to having fun and letting go, at least for an hour. You’ll be happy you did.  

2. Find your classrooms 

Lees-McRae isn’t a big campus, but no one wants to get lost on their first day! Orientation is the perfect time to figure out where you need to go when the semester starts.  

“Finding my classes was my favorite part of Orientation,” said Williams. “It might sound weird but going to different buildings with the people I was going to have classes with and talking to teachers was the thing that made me feel most prepared for college.”  

Your Orientation packet comes with a campus map, and a map is also located on the Lees-McRae website. Follow along during your campus tour and mark the buildings where you’ll have classes. That way, you will have a reference sheet to use on the first day even if you don’t remember exactly where all the rooms are.  

“Once you have your bearings, it gets you ready to go to class,” Welch said.  

3. Identify your most valuable campus resources 

At Orientation, you’ll meet many people whose whole job is to help you. In addition to your First Year Seminar professor and advisor, you’ll get to learn about resources like the Office of Career and Life Planning, the Burton Center for Student Success, the Shelton Learning Commons, and Counseling Services. Each faculty and staff member working in one of these offices can help improve your college experience, and even get you ready for life after graduation.  

The Group Rotation sessions might seem like a deluge of information you’ll never remember and something you have to sit through before you get back to the fun, but they’re one of the most important parts of Orientation.  

“I’m not going to lie—some of the things I didn’t listen to in my Orientation,” said Williams. “But there’s a section where you have Student Affairs and you have Counseling and you have all these different titles come up and speak about what they do. It’s important to know the resources that you have. I’m also an RA, and I have students ask me questions about where to go or who to talk to for different things, and a lot of that is covered in Orientation. A lot of people don’t know all that Lees-McRae offers.”  

You don’t have to remember everything you learn during your sessions, but make a few notes about who on campus can help you do what. Later, when you need help finding an internship, getting involved on campus, or getting support for your mental health, you’ll know where to go.  

4. Pack smart 

The packing list exists for a reason. The college has been running Orientation for years and your leaders know what you need.  

“Make sure to look at the list of stuff to bring,” said Welch. “So many students leave and forget pillows and blankets. We’ll help out as much as we can, but it’s a lot more comfortable if you have everything you need when you come.” 

The list has everything you need to survive and thrive for two days on campus, but Williams and Welch have some insider advice.  

“Bring a measuring tape,” Williams said. “Most of the freshman girls will be living in Avery Hall, where they’ll be staying for Orientation, so they can use the time to start planning how they want to decorate their room in the fall.”  

Welch also recommends bringing any games you’d like to play with others and, above all, making sure to pack a jacket.  

“I wish I would’ve known there was going to be a lot of sitting,” Welch said. “The auditorium is going to be very cold, and I didn’t know that until I was sitting there freezing.” 

5. Prepare to make friends 

Both Williams and Welch credited Orientation with jumpstarting their college social lives. It’s your first chance to meet in person the people you’ll be seeing for the next few years. Many students find their freshman roommate or core group of friends at Orientation.  

“This is your first chance to make friends,” Welch said. “When you come for the actual semester, you’ll already have familiar faces.”  

Your Orientation leader will be one of those familiar faces as well. Even after Orientation ends, your leader will be on campus to answer questions or offer help. As veteran students and Orientation pros, they know what they’re talking about, and they know what it feels like to be a new student. Many Orientation leaders sign up for the job because they love being there for upcoming students, so use them as a resource.  

As you get used to the campus, make new friends, and learn what the college has to offer, make sure to have fun. This is your first exposure to life at Lees-McRae, and while actually attending and taking classes will be a different experience, this is your time to start making campus feel like home. Your Orientation leader is here to help and your fellow students can’t wait to meet you.  

Congratulations on beginning your journey as a Lees-McRae Bobcat! We’re excited to have you here! 

Visit the Orientation page for more information

By Emily WebbJune 17, 2021
Campus Life