Arguably one of the most highly anticipated events of freshman year, New Student Orientation is also one of the most meticulously planned. And 2017’s NSO itinerary is no exception.
“They’ve got it pretty much down to a science,” said College junior Michael Krone, who is one of the student leaders of Peers Helping Incoming New Students or PHINS, who help to plan and execute the NSO program.
PHINS Exchange Coordinator and College junior Natasha Allen explained that while the foundation of this year’s NSO schedule remains the same, there are some minor changes and additions to the program.
For the first time, first-generation low-income students will participate in their own program, which will be conducted in collaboration with the Greenfield Intercultural Center, Penn FIRST, and other groups. FGLI students will move in a day early and take part in events designed for bonding.
“The purpose of the program is to make sure FGLI students are provided with an opportunity to get acclimated to campus life because they may not be afforded the same opportunities that many students might have," Krone said.
The Penn Reading Project has also been modified. In previous years, professors took charge of facilitating group discussions for PRP, but since professors occasionally failed to show up on time, PHINS student leaders will take on a larger role in facilitating these conversation, Allen said.
Another change is that this year’s assigned text, “The Innovators,” by Walter Isaacson, is available online as an e-book through a program called Grose. This allows students to highlight and annotate the novel as well as post discussions online.
“I think that the discussions are a really great place for students to have a discourse in an academic setting at a college level,” Krone said. “[The discussions are] a great way to start that, especially since a lot of students will be taking writing seminars their first semester.”
Krone said the ideal choice for PRP is a text that is engaging and encapsulates the theme without being too long for a summer read.
But according to some members of the Class of 2021, this year’s assignment might have missed the mark.
“I have only met one person who actually read the whole book,” College freshman Tise Ben-Eka said.
Every year, coordinators of NSO try to find places for advocacy groups eager to be part of the NSO schedule, Krone said.
NSO Director and English professor David Fox echoed that sentiment, noting that a shortcoming of last year’s NSO was that it was so “jam-packed.”
“My hope is always that students find it exciting and not too overwhelming,” Fox said. “And every year, we ask ourselves what we can do better next time."