Creating Meaningful Orientation for “Between Voyagers”

A vast majority of professionals in student affairs are able to name a mentor or someone they admire who made a difference in their lives. Many who choose student affairs as their profession do so because they want to have the same kind of impact on the lives of others as someone did in their own development.

One of the best and most advantageous positions to have an impact on college students is that of an orientation provider. Why is this the case? It is because orientation providers have access to students and families during a critical “between time.” Students and families at this time are like the “between voyagers.”

“The between voyager temporarily possesses . . . flexibility to become whatever can be imagined, and the openness to be radically transformed by a thought or a vision or an instruction.” (I Was Amelia Earhart, Jane Mendelsohn, Alfred A. Knofp, NY, 1996)

Just think about it. The students you see during orientation, whether fresh out of high school or adult learners, are more malleable during this time than at any future time during their college career. What you do or don’t do can make the difference in whether or not the student remains at your college or university or leaves for another institution or even leaves higher education.

To students just beginning their journey in higher education, orientation providers are all-knowing and all-powerful. Orientation providers have what these new students want: the keys to the kingdom, the magic word to open the doors to their success.

Orientation providers can capitalize and take advantage of this critical time and space by knowing, in broad strokes, something about these learners as a generation. Using this knowledge, orientation providers should take it as an imperative to plan an orientation that is created specifically to provide the support and information that this unique cohort of students deserve.


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