Do we really need Summer NSO?

By Sophia Corsetti

(Erica Lowenkron/ Daily Collegian)

Every summer, incoming freshman arrive at the University of Massachusetts to attend Summer New Student Orientation (NSO). Summer NSO spreads itself over the course of two long days in which students attend a number of information sessions. I was one of the many unenthusiastic new students to attend NSO this July. Prior to going, I had heard that the two days were nothing short of grueling, as are most things that require mandatory attendance for students.     Begrudgingly, I made the two and a half hour trek to campus with one of my high school friends. I wish I could say that I was pleasantly surprised by the experience that followed my arrival at UMass on July 22. Instead, I can only advocate for a big change in how UMass operates Summer NSO.

Summer NSO has a number of benefits. For one, it allows students to make new friends, receive their UCard and have their first experience in a dorm. As many of us have discovered by now, friends from orientation don’t always stick. My best friends have become the people on my floor. Though I may have hung out with friends from orientation the first few days after moving in, I became closer with the friends that I lived with.

On a similar note, UCard distribution over the summer was a nice gesture, but it certainly wasn’t necessary. In fact, it made students more susceptible to losing their UCard before they even moved in – a terrible way to start the year. Lastly, sleeping in the Northeast dorms was arguably one of the worst parts of orientation. Freshmen still mention the unbearable summer heat of the dorms and how uncomfortable it was to sleep on a bare mattress. How can students be expected to be prepared for day two of orientation when they’re unable to sleep the night before? Why aren’t incoming students given the accommodations of the Honors College? If Berkshire and Hampshire are our best dining halls, why are we bringing incoming students to Franklin? Orientation should make students excited about college, not dread it.

Another downside of NSO is all of the information sessions that students are required to attend. While I was sitting in one of the many information sessions, I questioned why I even had to be there. Most of the information we were being given was information I had already learned on a campus tour. If this is true, the majority of students who were at orientation had already toured the school before enrolling.

A tour of UMass during orientation felt like a time-slot filler. It was so unnecessary and exhausting. Many of the people in my orientation group remarked on how NSO could have been reduced to one day if it weren’t for all the unnecessary activities. Obviously making our schedules was a crucial aspect of orientation, but many of the community bonding activities were simply uncomfortable and awkward. In theory, orientation should be a great way to ease the transition from high school to college. Instead, Summer NSO made me nervous for how the fall was going to go.

In fact, NSO left such an impression on one of my friends that, after attending, she actually decided to go to another school. Now a sophomore at UMass Lowell, she told me that she was unable to connect with other students at NSO, and was unable to sign up for classes that were required for her major, instead being stuck taking courses in subjects that did not interest her. She said that these hindrances played a large role in her decision to not attend UMass. As such a big school, with so much to offer, UMass should be doing more to get students excited about attending its school as well as making sure they end up attending the school.

I’m not sure if completely abolishing Summer NSO is the right decision or not. In some ways, Summer NSO definitely helped me a lot. I made my schedule and I made new friends. Despite this, I’m definitely glad NSO is not an experience I will have to repeat. I was so pleasantly surprised when I got to UMass on Sept. 1. I felt completely relieved after finding out that college life was nothing like orientation – even the dorms were better. I don’t think we should get rid of Summer NSO, but I do think we need to change the process. Whether this means reducing it to one day rather than two, or changing the activities, NSO has the potential to be something fun for incoming students.

I’m confident that UMass can and will do better. But for now, I’m still trying to forget those two days in July.

Sophia Corsetti is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]