Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

How to Make the Most of Orientation

Phillip Gray Clark
August 12, 2016

It’s hard for me to believe that three years ago I was getting ready to leave my hometown of Atlanta and head on up to the Hill for an incredible adventure. As members of the Class of 2020 prepare for their Kenyon debut, I thought I would offer some advice for navigating Orientation.

1. Talk to your faculty advisor. You will be paired up with a professor who helps you get your academic footing and who will continue to serve as a resource for your entire college career. Don’t be afraid to talk to them, and try to get your advisor’s take on everything. You will likely have an overlapping academic interest with your advisor (that’s how the matches are made), but also get to know them beyond their academic interests. Invite them out for coffee, ask them about their family, even get your parents to meet them! Although you can change your advisor at any time, you never know: the professor you meet this first week might end up still being your advisor four years from now as you walk across the stage at graduation.

2. Use your upperclass counselor. UCCs are great. While your advisor can provide an expert’s perspective on academics, your UCC will give you the student side of the story. Plus, they’re a great resource for answering your questions about the social scene at Kenyon. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them about anything. If they don’t know the answer, they will put you in touch with someone who does. My UCC was a senior when I was an incoming first year, and we’re still great friends today!

3. Explore Kenyon and Gambier. You’re going to have some downtime during Orientation. Take that time to visit the Kokosing Gap Trail, hike at the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) or just explore campus and discover your favorite building. They don’t take you inside Old Kenyon on the tours, so now is your shot!

4. Don’t limit yourself. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but don’t be afraid to take that risk. Sign up for a class that is outside of your comfort zone, join a club because you want to try something new, and venture outside the dorm to attend a mysterious all-campus party.

5. Finally, embrace the awkwardness. I can remember some pretty damn awkward conversations I had during Orientation. A lot of them were desperate struggles to find some tiny bit of common ground (“Hey, would you look at that! We both have iPhones!”), a social lifesaver to cling to before throwing the friendship Hail Mary of “So, you wanna grab dinner at Peirce?” Don’t be afraid of these. Orientation is weird, but that’s how it always is. Above all, don’t worry. You will make friends, and you will enjoy your time on the Hill.