Admissions Blog: An inside look at orientation

Posted on August 19, 2021 by Abby May

While Sweet Briar’s orientation week provides the general sessions one would expect at a college orientation, it is so much more than that! Being at a smaller college allows for a more personalized approach to many of the things you will experience. Our fantastic student life and orientation leaders team gives new incoming students a unique opportunity to bond with their class, learn about campus resources and see how they can make their own mark.

Orientation is also a wonderful way to connect with your class through informative sessions, small group meetings and engaging social events. While new students will meet too many people to remember all of their names, many students make some of their fondest college memories during orientation. Finally, our welcome program doesn’t forget about parents and families! This year, we included additional family programming to provide them with opportune chances to meet and greet key people, learn about campus resources and get a detailed overview of what their college student will experience during their time here. 

In this blog, you will hear from some of the leaders that help planned and run orientation. Our orientation co-chairs and lead orientation leaders share their thoughts about the Sweet Briar orientation experience and what it’s like to plan it, plus share advice for first-year students.

Reesa Artz ’22, Orientation Co-Chair

“Orientation as a whole has 100% been one of my favorite leadership experiences during my time here at Sweet Briar. As a member of the leadership team, I equally enjoy being able to curate a wonderful week for the new students but also a leadership experience for newer student leaders to grow in. It has been an absolute pleasure being able to see my fellow classmates grow in their own leadership skills, taking on new challenges and successfully unleashing their potential.

“Some advice for new students I have is get something to make your room smell nice, whether that be a wax warmer or diffuser! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, both during and after orientation week! It is very difficult to fail at Sweet Briar, since there is an infinite number of resources and caring individuals at the ready to lend a helping hand, but you do have to be an advocate for yourself and your own needs.”

Elizabeth Sanford ’23, Orientation Co-Chair

“My favorite duty as co-chair is working on the programming for orientation. The entire experience can be shifted by the language we use and the way we frame our information. 

“I was most excited for our  Reader’s Theater presentation called “We Are Sweet Briar.” During the session, we delved into what being a part of this community really means. We are more than the sum of our identities here, and this presentation highlights that.”

Annika Kuleba ’22, Lead Orientation Leader

For me, the most fun part of orientation is getting to meet all of the new students and sharing my love for Sweet Briar with them. Especially now with being a senior, it is exciting to have an impact on the incoming students as they are the future of Sweet Briar. 

“I believe everyone has what it takes to be an orientation leader. It really comes down to having the ‘Sweet Briar Spirit’ while being comfortable with sharing that with others.”

Hannah Epstein ’22 (left) and Jess Austin, director of student engagement

Hannah Epstein ’22, Lead Orientation Leader

“Orientation has taught me a lot of things, one being that the impact orientation leaders and student life staff have on students is huge. It can really make or break a student’s experience at a college. Throughout being an orientation leader, and now lead OL, I have found my long term career goal, in higher education and student affairs. 

“One of the first pieces of advice I give new students is to put yourself out there and to try new things. One of the great things about Sweet Briar is there is so much to get involved with, and most of the time you don’t need any experience. The flexibility of being a part of a small community like Sweet Briar makes participating both inside and outside the classroom one of the most rewarding experiences.”

A big holla, holla and welcome to the Class of 2025! Orientation is now complete, and it’s time for our students to set off on their academic adventure. We can’t wait to see all of the things you will do during your first year at Sweet Briar.