Author: Josuha M., ’23
For all new students at Rice, their first formal introduction to college life will be Orientation Week, or O-Week. This event is taken very seriously by students and faculty, and is planned for months in advance. The week-long affair kicks off with move-in day, and continues with packed schedules of a variety of academic and social events everyday. The important logistical basics of O-Week concern the organization of the new students and the current ones. O-Week is run by your own residential college (for more info about the residential college system, see previous blog posts) and its current students. A group of a few dozen current students of your college are selectively and rigorously chosen to be “advisors” for the new students during O-Week. The large group of advisors are then divided into several small groups, and are given a small group of new students to lead and interact with during O-Week. The groups of new students and advisors are referred to as “O-Week groups” or “O-Week families”, and typically consist of four advisors and eight new students. Your O-Week group will serve as a starting point for your life at Rice, as you will spend every day of O-Week with them. Now, up until this point, I have explained the technicalities of O-Week, but I greatly want to emphasize that the importance of O-Week to the new students stems mostly from its social aspects. Sure, during O-Week, new students must complete some academic planning and build their schedules for the semester, and attend certain university-wide presentations by faculty members, but the majority of O-Week is actually spent interacting with other new students and advisors through multiple social events. To give a sense of how O-Week is impactful for new students outside of an academic realm, I like to remember my own O-Week experience, which wasn’t that long ago.
Coming into Rice, I knew very little about O-Week. I had heard from my older brother and a few older friends about their orientations at different universities, and some of their negative thoughts about their experiences, but I came into my O-Week without any expectations, good or bad. Now that my experience is complete and a few months removed, I look back on it with incredible fondness. From the very beginning of move-in day, I felt connected to a group of people that was genuinely excited for me to be here. I greatly enjoyed making my first friends here at Rice, and while we have all met many new people since then, some of my O-Week siblings have remained my closest friends. The thing that surprised me most about O-Week was the enthusiasm of the advising team. I knew that the advisors were all volunteers, and given the number of them, I wondered how many of them were volunteering simply out of need for more advisors. However, it was incredibly clear that every single one of them truly wanted to be here for O-Week, and it is that genuine excitement that made my experience so enjoyable.
From the very start of O-Week, you will experience the excitement to meet fellow students and pride for your residential college that create the basis for social life at Rice. Each day will be filled with opportunities to meet other students and learn about your residential college, which makes O-Week a truly enjoyable experience. I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, but I believe the best part of O-Week is how busy it is. From the moment you arrive on campus, they always have something to do and a place to be. Moving to college can be a very stressful and scary experience for many, but O-Week keeps you so busy that it’s difficult to feel any of that anxiety. You’re constantly meeting other students, learning about Rice, or just having fun, which makes O-Week a relatively easy transition.
That’s what I think sets apart Rice’s O-Week as a unique experience; it’s focused on helping you adjust socially to college. Of course, freshman year is a learning process, and the adjustments will continue to happen long after O-Week, but that first week provides a great starting point for social life here, and gives you the opportunity to create great friends and memories that you will cherish long after you begin your academic journey at Rice.