Orientation week is an excellent way to on-board new students or international students into the way of campus life. It’s a chance to welcome the new students as they enter into one of the most memorable phases of their life. Good planning will ensure you showcase your university as a preeminent educator with plenty of academic activities available to students, all designed to enhance their learning experience. Combine this with some engaging social events aimed to help students familiarise themselves with the university, build lifetime friendships and gain a true university experience and you should have a fun orientation program!
Ideally your Orientation program should be filled with a variety of evening and daytime activities. Some activities are intended for grassy outdoor areas to take in the last of the summer sunshine and others planned for under cover or in tents, perhaps sheltering from the evening thunderstorms.
Planning Your Orientation Week
Education providers often just count on their own resources for orientation week but it’s always good to buy in some new games and equipment giving a freshness for the start of a new year and help deliver their planned activities.
At the beginning of planning your Orientation Week, try to encourage older students to be involved in organising orientation activities. It’s a great way for them to give back and make life a bit easier for those students as they can empathize with the challenges and difficulties a new student will face.
You’ll need to decide what activities will be offered for orientation. Some Orientation Week games and activities could include:
- A traditional Hot / Corn dog stand or popcorn machine – these always create a carnival like atmosphere. Better still have a fruit kebab stand to encourage healthy eating.
- Bonfire night – using mini fire pits around the campus with toasted marshmallows.
- Fitness class – in active wear!
- Water Slide or Pool Party – if you don’t have a pool on campus, use a selection of paddling pools, particularly good for those hot days.
- Get to know one another with Table Topics cards – ask some questions about the students that no one else will know – great for introductions.
- Caricature Artist – draw the students and they also get to keep a picture of themselves as memorabilia. A caricature picture is a good way to find out information about the student so that the artist can depict more about the student in the drawing and it also creates an atmosphere of laughter for the spectators!
- Dance Party – choose your style of dance; salsa, tango, rhumba, bop or disco.
- Karaoke night – just remember the ear plugs!
- Fashion Parade – best or worst dressed in whatever category fits your theme.
- Games night – choose strategic games that encourage time management and how university differs from high school. There is only so many hours in the week and students will need to plan when to work and study, and what to do in their free time. Set them up for success, get them to plan a study timetable that is realistic and decide upfront, how much personal time to allocate to their day. Suggest some activities they can do for relaxation, exercise and enjoyment. Chinese Checkers, dominoes and other table top games offer great strategy techniques. Set some expectations; often at the end of semester students are bombarded with lots of assignments due from every direction, all in the same week as end of semester tests. Remind them that planning their time, will create habits for the next few years and applied during the whole year not just the first week.
- Incorporate campus rules and information into games like playing a game of Trivia Pursuit, a scavenger hunt or even easier than having teams of people running off the green, use a Tail-Less Donkey and match the numbers to people, places and useful information about the university.
- Have some fun – 3 legged races, hula hoop competition, water balloon toss, dunkin’ donuts, or sculling games with milk of course!
- Play some light physical games, like Ladder Golf, Rollo, or Cornhole toss.
- Create a team spirit with 4-Way Tug of War, Giant Tumbling Towers, or Giant Fishing game.
- Get the students to mingle. Create an Orchestra – participants get a card which lists a musical instrument.
- Participants make the sound of that instrument to find others who have the same instrument. Groups then have 3 minutes to rehearse a common tune their parts and finally come together as a whole to perform the tune.
- Play Snap or Happy Families card games – distribute the cards giving one to each student and they have to find their pairs.
- Be creative, have a cake decorating competition on topical subjects.
- Cactus decoration! Decorate the pot with coloured pens and stickers. Cactus are great because it gives the student some greenery for their rooms and they are pretty hard to kill as they can be watered spasmodically – very low maintenance!
Whatever you have planned ensure you keep the focus of orientation week to enable students to “find their fit” on campus and connect to the resources that are available to help them reach their potential, and let the students know there is a place for everyone.
Often this is the first time students are away from their parents and it’s good to build in activities that will help the student adjust to leaving home and how to manage (cope) with the sudden and often overwhelming freedom they have just inherited.
No longer will mum or dad be waking them up to start the day, making their breakfast, lunch and dinner, planning their schedules and doing their homework! Emphasis should be given to maintaining a healthy lifestyle – a bit more than responsible drinking and not taking drugs. Most would have been taught that in PDHPE in school. It’s good to stress that exercise and other healthy lifestyle aspects is essential to their daily campus routine.
Let the student understand that to be at your best academically you need to build in adequate sleep time, eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s fairly common for most students to visit the pizza parlour multiple times a week during their student days, but provide some guidance and ask them to restrict it to only once a week – their waistline will appreciate it! Remind them that a breakfast of Coco Pops followed by a Coke may be yummy and fast, but high in sugar and usually represents low-nutritional value. What you put into your body does affect your brain; in your thinking ability and attention span and let’s face it all students want their brains to be at their best during term.
There are many more ideas and directions you could take your Orientation week. If you are unsure about what games to offer or would like further information, contact the team at activelyinspired.com.au to help make your orientation week a fun intro into university.