Orientation is an important way for new students to become adjusted to university life. This article looks at freshman orientation and provides a brief look at what is involved in frosh week at Canadian universities.
The Basics of Freshman Orientation and Frosh Week in Canada
While the name varies by country and the length varies by school, freshman orientation is basically the introduction of a new class of students to a school community and helps them become familiar with their fellow students and their campus. The name ‘frosh’ is mainly the Canadian designation. Most American schools refer to it as Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) and universities in the U.K. call it Freshers’ Week. Orientation is a universal term referring to any activity that helps students acclimate to university life and become familiar with the campus before classes start. Most also promote social interaction with peers in an effort to make students more comfortable with their new surroundings.
Activities and Purpose of Freshman Orientation and Frosh Week
Frosh week in Canada includes social activities meant to ‘break the ice’ amongst students and present them with opportunities to become familiar with the various clubs and faculties on campus. From a larger perspective, orientation is also meant to give new students a sense of loyalty and pride in their new school. Logistically, it also lets students scope out their classes and solidify their course selection without worrying about attending classes. Orientation is meant to be inclusive of students living both off-campus and on-campus, but for students living on-campus, frosh week is an opportunity to get to know the people they’ll be living with, as well as the town in which they’ll be studying.
Attendance is usually optional, but strongly encouraged. International students sometimes have mandatory attendance at orientations because their situation combines inexperience living at school with the extra challenge of living in a new country.
How Does It Work?
Freshman orientation, as the name implies, is meant to get first-year students familiar with their new school. Most orientations involve first-year students being led by upper-year students who are already familiar with the campus, school, and city. Some orientation and frosh week activities are specific to certain faculties.
Engineering faculties are the most common faculties to employ their own orientation procedures, but others, like business schools, have their own orientations as well. These unique orientations often have traditions associated with them, especially faculties from older institutions. Some schools have three or four different faculty orientations, and others have particular orientations for different levels of students (like undergraduate and graduate students).
Aside from the obvious goal of letting students familiarize themselves with university life, freshman orientation can include a huge array of other activities, both entertaining and educational. The specific events vary by school, but you can usually expect a combination of fun, relaxing events, like concerts, sporting events, or beach days (depending on your location) and more academic activities, like student success workshops or university life lectures.
Because one of the main goals of frosh week is to get students involved in their school’s community and meet new people, many freshman orientation activities are socially minded. Expect some team building activities and games that rely on teamwork.
Tips for Frosh Week
It’s a good idea going into frosh week to have a basic understanding of what’s usually involved with your school’s freshman orientation. Does your faculty have a specific tradition? Is there a list of activities that reappear a lot, year after year? If you can, ask some older students what kinds of things their orientation involved, or look on your school’s website for schedules and details.
The majority of frosh events aren’t free, so be prepared to pay for any of the events you plan to attend. Most of the time, one general fee includes a welcome package with certain amenities along with admission to orientation events, so it’s a pretty good idea to enlist in orientation even if you’re not sure how much you’d like to participate.
Remember that orientation is supposed to prepare you for university life, not to ostracize the more introverted students. If you aren’t too keen on the group events, look for the more low-key activities. Most universities recognize that not all students want to be as outgoing as everyone else and usually have alternative events for these students.
It’s also a good idea to be at least a little familiar with the city in which you’re studying. Find out what the most popular activities are, where you can find the best bars, or what kinds of landmarks are nearby. This will give you a basic idea of where some of your fellow students might be heading during your orientation events.
Freshman Orientation: Making the Most of Your Frosh Week
The most important thing to remember about freshman orientation is that it should be an opportunity to meet new people and get to know your campus. Whether you want to spend your first week familiarizing yourself with the academic side of university, focus on the social, or both, there is likely an orientation event you’d enjoy. Universities provide frosh week activities that cater to everyone, so no one should feel uncomfortable or out of place. Orientations are a great way to ease into university life while also making friends and doing the things you enjoy.