I’m back from 2 days of college orientation with my oldest daughter. As I sat in hours of parent meetings, I just kept thinking — wow, how things have changed since I did this for myself, 32 years ago.
Of course, I’ve never attended orientation before as a parent. My mom informs me that my dad attended mine with me, and that he spent most of his time in the vehicle sleeping, while I went to sessions. I had forgotten that, if I was even aware of it at the time.
But I did attend every session dutifully this time, even if I had to do a few eye rolls.
First of all — two days? TWO DAYS? This seemed excessive, and apparently most colleges manage to enroll incoming students in a single day. I’m guessing that the two-day event has more to do with Bloomington’s economy (providing jobs for orientation staff and money to local restaurants and hotels) than to student need, but this is probably not the first time I’ll feel that way.
As a parent, I quickly tire of sessions that consist mainly of session leaders introducing themselves, and then reading through a packet of information that they gave us. There was the expected huge amount of PC content (my daughter and the other kids were treated to a performance of “College Life: The Musical,” which purports to address “real issues important to your life at IU”). It sounded very similar to Sue and Brad’s “Loneliest Locker” on The Middle (go ahead, take a moment to watch — you will laugh. But remember, at orientation this was not meant to be a joke!).
Current students led many of the parents sessions, which I’m not sure was the greatest idea. One of the girls opened by saying, “I’m not a parent, OBVIOUSLY! So I have no idea how you’ve done what you’ve done! But give yourself a hand!” One of the guys read something to us, and struggled to do it. This was not encouraging, considering the guy was a sophomore at this institution. Another girl warmed us up by doing various versions of The Wave. At first I thought she was cute and perky, but my opinion went rapidly downhill with increased exposure to her.
I wasn’t a fan, either, of the session leader who made his (opposite-from-mine) political views known, and then encouraged applause for them. Sheesh.
Another session featured a sentimental assignment for us, with leaders playing “Wind Beneath My Wings” while current students walked up and down the aisles, passing out Kleenex. I am not making this up (because really, you can’t make this stuff up).
I attended a financial aid session with my daughter. I was impressed by the leader for this one, who was no-nonsense and actually seemed to know some specific content. At one point, he talked about “disbursements,” mentioning that if students had aid that exceeded the cost of their college expenses, they could just enter their bank information, and the money would be deposited for them.
FOR REAL? I looked at my daughter, who nodded and let me know that yep, indeed, some students (including some she knew) get state aid above and beyond what it costs them to attend school. “How is that fair?” she asked, and I had to agree. She pointed out that she is working two jobs this summer, while a friend is socializing and doing whatever she wants, because the gov’mint (read: you and I) are paying her way. Things like that are so annoying — although perhaps it’s a good introduction to the real world.
I learned that IU values safety. That it really doesn’t matter whether you use a PC or an Apple. That no, you can’t bring a full-size refrigerator to the dorm. I learned, too, that every inquiry, no matter how inane, is pronounced “a really good question!”
More to come. As you might imagine, these two days gave me plenty of material for a while.