What does a typical day look like as an Orientation Advisor at Midlands Technical College? I could take the easy way out and say there is no typical day. However, I thought it might be interesting to lay out our schedule.
Around 8:30 am, advisors arrive on campus to assist in setting up for orientation. By then, the professional staff and the OLs (orientation leaders) and orientation assistants have already done the bulk of the work--setting up signs so students and parents know where to park, arranging tables and chairs, organizing the names and files of the students attending, and getting the electronics set up in the auditorium for the presentations that will follow.
Students begin arrive around 8:30 (although sometimes they show up sooner). That is where our real job begins. Advisors are stationed in one of many key areas to welcome and assist students. We might be greeters--stationed inside or outside at either the front or the back doors. We might work the check-in table and help students get set up with their name badge and major checked. We might be in the auditorium (my personal favorite spot) where we give them orientation packets and direct them to their seats.
Orientation begins promptly at 9 am where students hear from a multitude of faculty and staff about student life at Midlands, as well as complete activities and games, designed for college readiness and entertainment. At this point, the advisors move into the advising room and begin sorting files and preparing students potential class schedules.
Student schedules at Midlands vary widely. Some may be part-time, due to their jobs or family obligations. Some may want to be full-time, but cannot build a full-time schedule their first semester because they need to complete developmental or remedial courses before moving to the 101 level.
During advising, which follows the overview done in the auditorium, students file in to see us about 10 at a time. We have about 15 minutes to follow the Appreciative Advising model, as closely as we can in such a short amount of time, and to get students set up with a schedule. On a typical day, we may complete two orientation sessions--a morning and an afternoon session--during which we see somewhere between 2 and 6 students apiece. Many students also bring family and friends, adding an extra element to the mix, one that is mostly good and sometimes a little tedious.
After students meet with us, they are advised by financial aid, then finally, they file into the computer lab to sign up for at least one course. Signing up for a course helps students feel more official, as well as adds another layer of "reality" to the fact that they're college students now! Advisors may assist in the computer lab, or they may complete other miscellaneous tasks assigned by the professional staff.
Once students have finished registering for a class, they complete a survey on their experience, receive a free cell phone charger for their car, and are free to carry on with the rest of their day. Then we do it all over again.
The process is surprisingly exhausting. As an introvert, Student Affairs can sometimes be an incredibly draining field for me to find myself within. Some days I can't wait to crash after being "on" all day. But the perspective students give me energy as well. They light up the room with their enthusiasm for the next stage in their life.
While orientation may not be my long-term career goal, due to the large volume of individuals I interact with each day and the amount of energy it requires of this introvert, I do love the people I work with, the students I see, and the purpose behind the position.
I'm thankful that Midlands has given me the opportunity to delve into another area of student services with which I previously had very little experience.
Until next time!