Across college campuses, a coveted position is being an orientation leader.
People pounce at the chance to be the upperclassman who get to show freshman the beginning in's and out's of life on their college campus. The people selecting the orientation guides want the crème de la crème of guides making the selection process a gauntlet of applications and interviews.
All of this build up just to show a small group of freshman around campus for a few days, not knowing if your impact will be at all significant but hoping it is.
The impact that an upperclassman guide can have on a first-year student can often be unknown and unseen. It takes a lot of patience and generosity to be an upperclassman guide. It's a thankless job, with freshman not wanting to be oriented and just wanting to be let into the wild of college.
But through it all, the guides are always enthusiastic. They are excited to show the freshman what college life is really like and share their experiences with them. Their enthusiasm may not be infectious though, if anything it is overwhelming.
While I have never been an orientation leader, I am about to be a leader for an early move-in program. So while I might not have as big of a job as an orientation leader I still feel similar pressure to do a good job of welcoming my freshman to campus as they officially move-in and get settled.
As someone who is headed into her junior year, I am excited to be coming back to campus where I am rooted on campus by friendships, my job, leadership positions and other elements. It is because I know my place on campus that I am excited to lead a small group of Freshman for 2.5 days of community service.
I bombarded them with a long, overly enthusiastic email about myself and a little bit about what we'll be doing because I am excited for these three days and I hope they are too.
But honestly, I have no idea if these five freshmen are just as excited as I am.
I have been trying to put myself in their shoes and how I would be feeling.
I would feel nervous and anxious to leave home for the first time and move to a totally unknown and new place. I was hesitant to leave for college and not feeling enthusiastic about it at all. I didn't participate in an early move-in program because I wanted to have as much time as possible to move into my dorm room and not be distracted by anything else.
If in my wave of anxiety and adrenaline I had met an enthusiastic guide I would have been so overwhelmed.
So I am packing a piece of my freshman self with me when I am working as a guide.
On one shoulder, I'll have my current enthusiastic self who will bring energy and excitement but on my other shoulder, I'll have my Freshman self to remind me that things can be overwhelming and hopefully the two will balance each other out.
Upperclassman guides of any sort want to do the best they possibly can and are nervous about what the freshman will think of them.
We are nervous about letting the freshman down and not giving them the best possible experience. Often we'll mask our nerves with our enthusiasm hoping our cover won't be blown.
The truth is, everyone, guides, and freshman are going to be a little bit nervous because we just want everyone to have a great time.
In the end, us guides may never know if the freshman we led got anything out of the experience, but we sure hope they did.