Orientation Week Eases Transition to Cornell

In mid-August, students from around the world will pack up from summer vacation and congregate in Ithaca, N.Y., where the next generation of political leaders, business tycoons and famous activists will be become part of the incoming freshman class at Cornell University.

During the five-day New Student Orientation, freshmen will be given the chance to not only settle in, but also reach out and explore. The Orientation Steering Committee runs a tight ship of planned activities and events, which give students the opportunity for a positive first taste of Cornell life.

There are plenty of other options available for students. According to Nikki Stevens ’11, former co-chair of the Orientation Steering Committee, the more traditional events are generally the crowd favorites.

“My favorite event is the Big Red Blowout because it gives a sense of Cornell spirit, and it’s a great chance to hang out with your class,” Stevens said.

Former Orientation Leader Jeff Stulmaker ’11 reiterated Stevens’ enthusiasm.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students to explore the campus before they take that final plunge,” Stulmaker said of “O-Week.”

Orientation Leaders serve as new students’ guides to campus in the first week and often beyond. They can serve as valuable resources to find quiet places to study, cool places to party and everything in between.

New students nervous about their first day on campus can take comfort in the fact that Emily Krebs ’10, former chair of the OSC, says move-in day is often the most exciting of the entire week.

“Move-in day is always my favorite,” Krebs said. “I love seeing the new students come in.”

Last year’s Orientation Week was the first in which students were not assigned a Freshman Reading Project to discuss in small groups. The project phased out two years ago with Slaughterhouse Five, a novel by notable Cornellian Kurt Vonnegut ’44. Instead O-Week will encourage student engagement through exhibitions at the Johnson Museum and other events.

“It’s a very diverse experience,” Stevens said. “We have something for everyone. If you get involved, there’s a lot you can see.”

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