Orientation disorients incoming students

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New students emerge from Orientation week well-versed in several school chants and endowed with intimate knowledge of the route to the BankUnited Center. But ask one of these supposedly oriented students how to find the registrar’s office, and you’ll probably wish you had consulted some tea leaves instead.

While numerous spirited events, such as Cane Kickoff, foster a sense of community that helps many new students cope with the emotional challenges of living away from home, many end up likening Orientation to a summer camp, a week of fun and excitement with little bearing on their future lives at UM. 

Orientation, with its focus on introducing students to Hurricane culture, fails to prepare students for the monumental tasks of navigating the academic system and university life as a whole.

When students are not throwing up the U or receiving armfuls of free T-shirts, they are shunted back and forth in huge groups from info session to info session, where they are flooded with information they never hear again. 

When Orientation ends, so does any active engagement with new students on the part of faculty and staff. For a week, students are babied, led almost by the hand to every activity, but after August 25, they are expected to extract, all by themselves, the information they need from the university’s murky processes to go abroad, get a transcript or rearrange class schedules.

Even throughout Orientation, students gain little experience in how the university actually works. By the time classes begin, new students have met with their advisers for approximately 10 minutes and have traveled to the main campus only a handful of times. UMX, an online course designed for first year and transfer students, aims to supplement these experiences with information on subjects such as leadership and study abroad opportunities. Yet it is a poor substitute for personal, face-to-face connections with university faculty and staff.

Orientation may help incorporate new students into the large and vibrant community of UM, but it does so at the expense of their individual needs. Orientation should make clear to students what resources are available to refine their individual experiences at the university, and not emphasize so much their roles as minor organisms in a huge ecosystem.

It remains unclear what the frantic and fast-paced week actually orients students toward; it seems, instead, to spin them around in circles, make them dizzy and release them into a maze.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

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