New Student Orientations, Take Two

A few days ago, I began my run-down of the Orientation experiences among 5 Christian colleges here in the Chicago area. The first post in this series can be found by clicking here (this series will make far more sense if you read that first one).

After I get done, I’ll write a few further “notes” from those experiences – I think we in other forms of collegiate ministry can learn from “how they do it” more than you might think.

To tell about Orientation as a freshman might have experienced it, you get to hear from Benny. While not actually a real person, Benny has some great insights from his wide-eyed, sheltered, excited-but-nervous freshman point of view. (C’mon, it’s a narrative device.) If it seems like this is the longest New Student Orientation in the world, remember, it was actually five schools. And yes, I actually did all this. It was a beating – but fun!

As before, the “composite school” is named Explor University, and footnotes at the end of the whole post explain where I actually was on the various days.

So here’s Benny.


Hi, again. It’s Benny. Thanks for reading about the start of my Freshman year.

Okay, so in the middle of the third day of Orientation at Explor University, it started raining – and I mean it was raining hard [1]. So hard that everybody kinda huddled inside, which I guess is a good way to meet people. Then they told us there might be a tornado, so we had to stay in the basement (luckily I was already there, but I didn’t know and started to leave and got in trouble).

So anyway, the lights went out a bunch, but no tornado came (I don’t think). Finally, they let us go. I wonder if it rained anywhere else around here, ’cause it was raining pretty hard! Oh well.

That night we had a big Orientation session in the Chapel. Apparently there was a whole Orientation team (students) who were in charge of all the planning. So they showed a video to get things started. It was pretty cheesy, but it was funny. Everybody else was laughing, so I did, too.

Wheaton Orientation Crew & Video

Then the Orientation Crew (I think that’s what they’re called) talked about what they had learned since being in college. One of the girls talked about almost lying to her professor, but it was good that she didn’t. And one girl said it’s really easy at Explor (because it’s a Christian school) to put on a perfect Christian face and act like everything’s good, even when it’s not. That happened at my Christian high school, too, so I knew what she meant.

I definitely want to be transparent with people (like that girl talked about), but so far everything seems so shallow! I have to keep asking people their names (which I hate), and then we have nothing else to talk about. So we ask each other’s majors. I found that usually works well. And then I ask where they’re from. But after that I don’t know WHAT to ask. Oh – but if they’re from Michigan, I ask if they’re Upper Pen. (peninsula) or Lower Pen. They seem to like that. But after that, I’m out of questions. I don’t know when that will ever be fixed, ’cause it seems like there are SO many people here.

One thing neat about this night is that everybody seemed really excited to see us new people. All the older students who were helping with Orientation were yelling and screaming about us being there, and so that was pretty cool. They painted the windows of the cafeteria with welcoming things, too, like “Welcome Class of 2011!” Wow – 2011. That seems so far from now. I wonder what it will be like when I’m someplace and they’re like, “Welcome Class of 2020!”

Later that night, we hung out in the student center. It was really crowded, but some people got ice cream.

The next day (Day 4 of Orientation) [2], I got some time to look around campus and then go to the end of a soccer game. That was lots of fun, and it was good to root for my new school. And they won!

I went to the bookstore, and I bought a jacket and a pennant. I figure those are necessary things for a freshman to have.

I wandered into a parent meeting about some of the rules, and I didn’t hear much, but I did hear about the “closed dorm” policy. (Since EU is a Christian school, girls can’t be in boys’ dorms and vice versa.) But sometimes they have “Open Dorm” nights, where girls can come hang out or something. But the girl talking told the parents that all doors had to stay open and something about “all feet on the floor” and “all legs on” and I didn’t really know what all that meant. Or if I even heard her right.

I don’t know why me or my roommate would ever want girls over in our dorm room anyway. There’s a student center, and it’s way cooler.

That night, we had the “President’s Chapel.” So everybody came to the chapel, and the President was going to give the message. But first some students led worship, and other students talked. They weren’t freshmen, I don’t think.

Judson’s President’s Chapel

The worship leaders were actually really good, with lots of good songs. One girl who talked said she went to a different Christian school for her freshman year, ’cause she thought all Christian schools were the same. But she was really sad when everybody just partied. So she came to Explor, and she said it was really a solid school spiritually. That made me glad, because I don’t know what I’d do if somebody asked me to go to a party. I mean, like that kind of party. (I looked the girl up on Facebook, and she went to a school in Indiana before Explor.)

One note on praise & worship: People sure seem to like to sing in different ways here at college. Some raise their hands, and some sit down, and some stand up. I’m not used to that much difference, but I remember at my church some people started raising their hands when I was in jr. high, so that’s cool. I might try it here. We’ll see.

The president talked about a lot of good things at that Chapel. And we also went over the school song, and we sang it at the end.

Then came Sunday of Orientation [5], and it was time to find a church. So on this day, the school was really cool and let the churches come to us, during breakfast, and they gave us van rides to some local churches! I thought that was neat, but the only problem is, I took too long to decide. So I didn’t really get in a group. But luckily, there was a close church. It looked like some other freshmen were walking there, so I just followed them and ended up inside.

They also gave us breakfast free at school if we were going to get church info.

Oh, and this time they gave us a list of all the churches, and they told us a few things about the churches (what kind of music, what the church was like, etc.). I thought that was good, ’cause it will help me make my decision. (I still haven’t decided yet.)

After church I ate lunch, and then I didn’t know what was next so I checked my Orientation schedule. It said:

4-6 p.m. Sunday Nap (Your Bed) · All Students

I guess that’s something college students do a lot – nap. Now that classes have started, I can sure see why!

I thought the nap was a pretty good idea, but instead I decided to go to instead to a thing called “Vespers” that night [4]. We got a bunch of free food (I’m likin’ this free food at college!), and then we had a worship time, which I guess is what a Vespers is.

After some students led worship, some big students talked. I don’t mean they were big in size, but I think they’re like the Student Body President and somebody else. I dunno. Anyway, both of those guys talked about how even though we might have had a great summer and all, there will be really bad times for us here in college sometimes. But even in those times, God will help us through. It kinda scared me a little bit, but I’m ready. Hopefully.

Moody Vespers

Then a teacher talked – sorry, they’re called professors in college – and she was more upbeat.

Okay, more later. Bye for now.


(See the third & final installment here.)

[1] This night is still August 24th, but takes place at Wheaton College.

[2] This day, August 25th, was spent at Judson University.

[3] The morning of Sunday, August 26th, was spent at North Park University.

[4] At Moody Bible Institute.


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