Campus News

Orientation Advice from Director Tina Zwegat

August 13, 2015

Lisa Gulasy

In less than two weeks, you, the newest group of Obies, will arrive on campus. Making the transition to college is highly exciting, but it can also be nerve wracking. Moving into your dorm, completing placement and exemption tests, meeting with your advisor: There is so much to do in such little time. How can you possibly get it all done and get to know your new home before the semester begins?

Worry not, says Tina Zwegat, director of orientation and associate director of the Student Union. Zwegat, who has served as the director for nearly 20 years, says while you will be busy throughout Orientation, the program is specifically designed to give you “breathing room” to meet new people and explore the wide range of resources and opportunities available to you on campus.

“As opposed to bombarding new students with everything all at once, we try to schedule primarily academic and required activities in the first few days and leave social activities toward the end of the week,” she says. This purposeful arrangement is apparent when looking at the Orientation schedule—a copy of which will be given to you upon arriving to campus.

Required events (marked blue) such as the President’s Opening Session, Faculty Panel, and Honor System Presentation all happen in the first two days. Required events outside of these days—particularly The OC: A Play about Relationships and College Life and Many Voices/Building Communities—are more informal and are held to foster discussion as well as provide important campus life information.

According to Zwegat, the latter two events present an honest look at campus life from a student perspective, covering such topics as alcohol, relational abuse, and STIs. “The OC talks about the pleasures and problems associated with community living, relationships, and student well-being in entertaining and, at times, heart-wrenching ways,” she says. “Many Voices, which is a panel of students, demonstrates how living at Oberlin can be different for different people. For example, what it’s like to be LGBTQ at Oberlin, what it’s like to have a spiritual life, to be first-generation, Republican.”

Beyond the required events, Zwegat encourages you to attend programs offered by your residence hall. “The people you live with will be your support system, so take every opportunity to get to know them.” Referencing the speech First Lady Michelle Obama delivered to last year’s graduating class, she also encourages you to seek out opportunities to talk with people who may be different than you.

“Orientation includes many receptions for specialty groups. What I find so wonderful about Oberlin is that you don’t have to be a part of that group to attend. You don’t have to be Jewish to go to Shabbat Dinner; anybody can go to the Multicultural Resource Center Open House. Put yourself with people who may not be of like mind; that’s what Oberlin College is all about.”

Zwegat offers a final piece of advice for new students during Orientation: “Don’t be afraid to go to events because you don’t know anybody. Nobody knows anybody! The students you will meet during Orientation are also new here.” In other words, put yourself out there, and like Obies before you, you’ll soon feel at home.

For additional Orientation information—including specifics for your parents—visit the Orientation web page.

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