Orientation falls short of goals


Emily Ng

Students participate in an orientation wing meeting in June 2013.

Olivia Berkeley

Editor’s Note: A shorter version of this column ran in the June 9 edition.

Freshman orientation is in full swing on the UT campus. Hordes of fresh-faced students flock to Austin to, among other things, “learn” about the University and get their first taste of college life. Unfortunately for them, however, orientation is a far cry from the realities of the college experience.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Orientation is not summer camp, nor is it an experience that students put on their top list of amazing things they’ve done at UT. It is a 72-hour waste of time from which one emerges with a bag full of UT-related shirts and pamphlets, a waitlist-laden fall schedule and a few new friends with whom they’ll inevitably fall out of touch within the first month of school.

On paper, orientation is marketed as one of the most important first steps in order to make the transition from high school to college a successful one. However, when one wades through the endless burnt orange propaganda, pointless lectures and mandatory wing meetings, it becomes clear that orientation is nothing more than a cold-hearted attempt to bore incoming Longhorns to tears.

Orientation is not where Longhorn pride is born and to insinuate such is an egregious alteration of the truth. Half of orientation is spent racing to get to meetings and the other half is spent wondering if a nap is a better use of your time than a "Get Sexy, Get Consent" play. The unnecessary activities that take place during orientation detract from the important aspects of a traditional college orientation: getting classes, exploring campus, learning about ways to get involved and making new friends. If anything, orientation is detrimental to a student's future success at UT. It makes it so incoming students enter school with as much practical information as they had before, which defeats the so-called purpose of orientation. Orientation is infuriatingly self-indulgent and begs the question: Is it really for the students or for the advisers who are getting paid for their time?

The truth of the matter is that orientation could not be less representative of college if it tried. Unlike orientation, college outside the classroom isn’t scheduled. You don’t have to check in somewhere at midnight. You aren’t told when to be somewhere and for what reason. One of the foundations of college — freedom — is entirely lost during orientation. 

But until UT figures out a way to more efficiently impart the necessary information, generations of incoming students will have to endure the same fate as their predecessors. But hey, at least there are pints of Blue Bell ice cream in JCL available to ease the sorrows and frustrations.

Berkeley is a Plan II and public relations sophomore from Austin. Follow her on Twitter @oliviaberkeley.

Correction: An earlier version of this column misidentified where a despondent orientation student can seek solace in a pint of Blue Bell. The tubs of creamy goodness can be found at Jester City Limits, or JCL, among other places on campus.