After a selective admissions process, OLs work to make orientation memorable

The summer before their first year at UVM, every incoming student is required to take place in an orientation experience led by an orientation leader.The program’s leaders are everyday students attending the University, but the criteria that make a good orientation leader (OL) and a good orientation experience are not always what the orientees are most concerned with.”I know almost nothing about the program and its leaders, but I did enjoy my orientation experience as a first-year,” Gwen Williams said.To ensure that incoming freshmen have an enjoyable experience like Williams’, interested students must submit forms to begin the rigorous OL application process. Trisha Rascone, assistant director for Student Life and Orientation, said the application process is quite rigorous and competitive. It consists of a minimum GPA requirement of 2.5, two recommendation letters, short essay questions, a group and an individual interview. “Our applicant pool ranges,” Rascone said. “Some years we get 80 applicants and this year we are projecting around a figure on the high 60’s. We only accept 35-37 applicants.”Rascone said that the position is open for all types of students on campus.”There is no certain picture for an OL. We look for a range of leadership positions. Some people have been Advocats or in IRA, and for some this is their first time in a leadership position,” Rascone said.Bob Just, a former OL and the president of the Inter-Residence Association, said he was “drawn to the idea of being an OL because of the idea of being that first contact person that a person makes when coming into the world of college.”The orientation leadership program also has great benefits, whether they are physical or personal. According to the application information, “an orientation leader gets a $1,200 stipend, their own room in WDW, two staff shirts and fun novelties, vacations days, and more opportunity for paid work.”However, Just said that OL can sometime get much more than they bargained for.Just said he was once in a situation where he had to work with a tearful student who was unhappy about their experience so far. “I will never forget that moment after our talk, I think I can safely say that they had a very positive experience for the rest of orientation,” Just said. “I sometimes run into my orientee and it makes me feel good knowing that despite them feeling out of place, they ended up with some good friends.””Overall, orientation was very helpful for me to get a feel for the campus and resources available to me,” Williams said. “My leader was approachable and very knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about UVM, which I found to be great qualities to have as a leader.”