For the University of Delaware, summer means its time for a new freshmen class to populate campus, a campus they’ll be able to call their own for the first time. It is time for New Student Orientation, popularly known as, “NSO.”
NSO is a day that is as nerve-wracking as it is exhilarating, a time when your excitement for college is only matched by anxiousness about whatever the year might bring. You probably changed your outfit for three times and still aren’t completely satisfied with the final decision, (or maybe that’s just me). You smile for your ID picture and hope desperately that an image you’ll carry with you these next few years isn’t a complete disaster. You listen to each presentation with painstaking focus but still don’t feel like you totally get it.
However, it is also a day when you are in awe of the Orientation Leaders having so much energy so early in the morning. It is also a day when your stress about picking classes is significantly lessened after a one-on-one session with an adviser. It is also a day when you look at the students and setting around you and realize with growing eagerness that this place is beginning to feel like home
I remember NSO, and all these aspects, vividly. But something I don’t always appreciate now that I’m on the other side is just how intimidating that day was as a rising freshman. That day symbolized beginning the transition from high school to college, the first step on a bridge to university life. I often forget that that step was little short of terrifying to me.
Instead, I look at the Class of 2018 with envy, for they are making a transition that in hindsight, appears perfectly manageable. The reality that awaits them is college, an enriching and invigorating reality I have come to know and love. This reality isn’t frightening anymore- it’s fun. Additionally, they will have mentors and professional assistants helping them along they way as they make the adjustment. The transition that looked like a long and rickety rope bridge to me as a rising freshmen, I regard now as a mere hop from one side of the road to the other.
I am preoccupied now with another transition that looms ahead of me. It is the change from university life to “real life.” My entry into this real world is what intimidates me now, for this transition is surely more difficult, surely more worthy of nervous anticipation than the one between high school and college.
But is it, though?
It is easy to look back at NSO, recognize how well everything turned out and how smoothly everything went, and say that transition wasn’t a big deal. It’s easy to belittle the transitions of the past and tell yourself that the one right ahead of you, that’s the one you need to worry about. Easy to say, easy to believe, but it’s not the truth.
The fact is, that transition was scary. But I was prepared for it, more prepared then I realized, and just as prepared as I will be when it comes time to graduate college. Watching the Class of 2018 go through NSO each day is a good reminder of that. If they are as half as nervous as I was, they’re awfully nervous. They’re also going to be just as okay I was, just as okay as my Class of 2016 will be as we go off into the world at the end of these 4 years.
To me, NSO is many things, but most of all, it is a poignant representation of transition. It is a picture of one of many changes we have to undergo as human beings, and it is a reminder of how worthwhile and manageable those changes turn out to be. Class of 2018, (and every class that comes after you), you guys are going to be just fine.