A training session organized by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership brought more than 30 Orientation Leaders to New Bedford High School to relive the high school experience and answer questions about college life.
The program returned OLs to a "high school mindset," which helped them better identify with BSU's many incoming freshmen during orientation, said [b]Kelly Reid[/b], student orientation coordinator, who co-facilitated the program with [b]Chistina McCauley[/b], assistant director of new student programs.
"The transition from high school to college is a huge leap," said Ms. Reid. "Putting themselves in the shoes of a high school student allowed the OLs to better aid the new students coming to BSU, because they were able to experience where the incoming students were coming from."
The OLs were brought to NBHS unknowingly and given the day to interact with the seniors in small group forums, discussing such topics as day-to-day routines, major concerns, and post-graduation plans.
OL [b]Christine Garabedian[/b] of Upton said the close discussions were beneficial for orientation training. "It gave us the chance to briefly connect with students on a personal level, and further reminded us of what the life of a high school student is like," she said.
As for the NBHS students -- they had the opportunity to interact with college students in a small group setting, learning about their education, campus life and their transition out of high school, said Ms. Reid.
Part of the training involved BSU students living as high school students for the day, navigating the unfamiliar halls, using lockers, and attending classes. Little things, such as remaining inside one building all day, hearing a bell ring for class changes, and hunting down a supervisor for a key to the bathroom, was all it took for Ms. Garabedian to empathize with the seniors.
"Some of us have been out of high school for two or three years, and have grown accustomed to the freedom and independence that comes along with college life," said Ms. Garabedian, a biology major who is membership recruitment chair for the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority. "Seeing details like these first-hand reminded us of what a huge transition these high school seniors will be making in just a few short months."
At the end of the day, the OLs addressed the entire senior class in the auditorium, answering questions chosen by the seniors about transitioning to college. This allowed the OLs to gauge their public speaking skills and knowledge about college life, as well as scope out behaviors of students in that age group, said Ms. Garabedian. "This is important," she said, "because the students in the audience were examples of students who we would see in our orientation groups."
The program derived from another OSIL training session called Strangers in a Strange Land, where OLs are brought to college campuses, such as UMASS Dartmouth, to experience a new school from the perspective of a freshman.
Helping the OLs train were BSU alumni [b]Mario Pires[/b] and [b]Stephen Boucher[/b], two former OLs who are now teachers at NBHS. (Rob Matheson, '07, G '12, University Advancement)