Overly Extensive Orientation Programs

Katelyn Kim '25, Contributor

As a boarding school that fosters the emotional, mental, and intellectual growth of adolescents, Loomis Chaffee needs an inclusive, welcoming, diverse community and atmosphere that is conducive to student success and sense of belonging. During the first month of the school year, numerous programs and events are planned to strengthen community bondings and allow new students to feel comfortable in a new environment. While the events and programs occurring in this period of adjustment may seem like a necessity and a positive opportunity for students to forge new connections, students may find them overwhelming. Modifying school events to be less frequent, shorter in duration, or even optional could improve the experiences of new students trying to adapt to the busy beginning of the school year.
Freshmen or new sophomores at Loomis are welcomed with extensive programs such as Pelican Pilot, Freshman/New Student Orientation, and Peer Mentors. These events planned by the Dean’s Office are intended to spark new friendships and induce a sense of familiarity and commonality between groups of students. However, it can be overwhelming and tedious, imposing forced relationships on students. With classes, sports, clubs, and other activities at Loomis, there are multiple other ways for new students to find meaningful connections in more genuine, authentic ways.
When initially stepping onto campus, students have felt different emotions. Yilian Jiang ’25 elaborated on her experience of feeling out of place during the first few days at the school, explaining, “It was kind of overwhelming being a new sophomore at first, because there’s a lot of new faces. Coming in as a sophomore is weird since it feels like everyone already knows each other and already have established friend groups.”
Despite this, Jiang spoke of her appreciation for advisory groups, the support she felt from her advisor, and her interactions with students who “take you in and introduce you to everyone.”
Although Jiang shared many positive reflections, she included some aspects of orientation that she found repetitive or unnecessary. For example, she expressed her annoyance for the Sophomore Orientation, as these events often involve small games with new students, generating a feeling of involuntary relationships being made from the event.
Andrew Kim ’26 expressed his opinion on orientation, saying that “It was a good way to allow me to socialize and create new friendships. However, looking back, if someone were to tell me to participate in the event every year or relive the event, I would choose not to. I think that I could easily adjust and create friendships in the school without such an enforcing environment thrown upon me.”
Other students also questioned whether orientation was an essential event for all new students and first-year students. Jordan Russell ’25 stated, “I liked orientation because it allowed me to meet new people quickly after coming onto campus. But I truly met my closest friends today on my own as school carried on last year. So, I do not think the event is as necessary or effective for students as it may seem.”
Personally, when I was a freshman, I found that the first couple of months took some personal adjusting to the courses offered at Loomis and the advanced, fast-paced nature of the classes. Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself in each of my classes last year, and I am glad my teachers, peers, and of course, peer mentors, motivated and encouraged me. Other outlets of support for students include counseling, Peer Mentors, PSN, and Advisory groups. Loomis can be applauded for cultivating a supportive environment for the first-year class and students new to the school. However, students would benefit more from being able to expand their friendships and discover activities on their own.