Did you know that the success or failure of new students on campus lies in the hands of your Orientation Leaders?
It’s true. And how they are prepared for their responsibilities will determine if those new students are successful during their collegiate career.
When I arrived on campus, my college orientation consisted of getting handed a Student Handbook with an envelope of coupons from local vendors and about a 30-minute session of going around a circle with 10 new students talking about ourselves. “Assessment” was our ‘orientation leader’ asking us if we met any new people. He was no more equipped to help me succeed as a student than I was as a timid first-year.
The training that you provide for your Orientation Leaders needs to be intentional. It should allow them to bond through fun and invigorating exercises that will not only further develop their leadership skills but enable them to provide more effective representation to new students and their families.
New Student/First Year Experience programs are pivotal in defining the direction new students choose when arriving on campus. Too many times orientation leaders are brought into situations they are not prepared for and they end up giving the wrong information or advice to new students. I had the privilege of spending a day working with the Orientation Leaders at Spelman College in Atlanta helping them to prepare for the next nine days that they were going to spend with their group of new students. Nine days! That’s a long time and the potential for things to not go as hoped is great.
It is important for your Orientation Leaders to help their group of new and transfer students succeed in going from orientation to graduation. With that, here are some areas I suggest you include in your training for Orientation Leaders:
- Sessions that develop your Orientation Leaders’ facilitation skills
- Solutions to handle drama, conflict, and bullying
- Provide personal growth through introspection
- Bust the biases students bring to leadership roles, helping them to understand diversity in its various forms
- Demonstrate how listening and communication skills turn your Orientation Leaders into mentors
- Discover and share the importance personal leadership styles, including their impact on interactions and abilities development
What are some of the things your school includes? Do you have specific goals that you go into Orientation Leader training hoping to achieve? Any other ideas you want to share? Please use the comment space below to create a dialog to improve every campus’ Orientation Leader training!