Bwog Guest Writer Talia Bloom take us through her experience at Barnard’s NSOP: the bad, the boring, and the bland.

I strolled through the Barnard gates the morning of Sunday, August 28 with lofty hopes and dreams for my one and only college orientation experience: meeting fellow first years, taking part in engaging programming, and getting acquainted with the school and city. Instead, I was met with mediocre Hewitt catering, three hour-long lectures a day, and little to no bonding or NYC trips. Ms. NSOP, you fell short.

While I mean to deflect no blame on the orientation coordinators or leaders, the following are my gripes, humbly written with the hopes of a better NSOP for future Barnard first years. 

  1. NSOP was wayyyy too long. The eight days prior to classes starting was simply far too much time. The number of “I have no friends, it’s way too hot in my dorm, what am I doing here” moments certainly could’ve been diminished with a shorter time period. And it’s not like there was substantial programming any of the days!
  1. While we’re on the “I have no friends” theme, this year’s NSOP was not set up to foster connection and help us meet new people. My orientation group met a whopping two times: dinner on the first day, and breakfast the following morning. The rest of the week? I was on my own to find people to eat meals with, and left to brief moments of socializing with those sitting next to me during our many lectures. I had no expectations to meet my best friends that week, but hey, meeting more than six people would have been fabulous! 
  1. The lectures were probably the most boring they possibly could’ve been. The amount of repetition we got (two separate safety presentations with the exact same content), and the number of sessions that could have been emails with information was astounding. They also started at 9AM! What?!? Where’s our sleep?!
  1. I hold a special place of anger for the awkward 45 minute gaps between our sessions. Too short to nap, too long for anything else – these gaps stretched our days of zero substance and led to accumulated hours of sitting on my phone waiting. 
  1. Unlike Columbia, us Barnard students didn’t get to go out and explore NYC. We were excited for the weekend excursions (signing up to go thrifting or to Central Park), but those sessions filled up within minutes of their release. Congrats to the lucky 50 Barnard frosh who got to go! The rest of us – an entire city to figure out on our own. Woohooo.
  1. The FOOD. While Columbia was getting the fanciest boats of items, boxes of candy, fancy sandwiches, lobster mac and cheese, and tents of unlimited food, we were getting pasta, dry chicken, and bricks of tofu. Every. Single. Meal. Crossing the street into a haven of luxury meals, we had to beg our fellow Columbia students to get us food.

So, our dearest Barnard, I implore you to take a look at your NSOP practices for next year. Send orientation groups into the city, let them go camp in the wilderness or whatever like Columbia, have a little semiformal moment, send everyone to a baseball game – do something! I promise you that half of those lectures could’ve been information sent out in an email: focus your energy on making sure first years feel connected and excited about the school they just arrived at for the first four years. Feed your students well, help them make friends, and give your OLs real programming to go out and lead! Your students will thank you <3

Barnard via Bwarchives