Orientation ratings hit all-time high in 2012
Calvin’s orientation program earned record-high ratings this year, according to Calvin’s orientation board. The Calvin Class of 2016 gave Passport and Quest the highest rankings in the history of the programs.
The results are based on a survey given to new students via email every year, said Rebecca Laarman, administrative assistant at the student development office. Students ranked programs from excellent to poor and the results were averaged together.
Laarman said the ratings have been improving since the Quest program changed in 2009. She explained that the schedule for Quest changed from being different for each Quest group to the same across the board.
“We did this because it gave everyone more to talk about. Sure, having 1,000 students in the city doing Streetfest on the same day is hard, but to have one shared experience where you’re out working together as a community sets up great team building and starts relationships at the very beginning,” Laarman said.
When people were asked about the secret to Quest’s success this year, the word “community” popped up again and again.
“Calvin has a top orientation program,” said senior Arianna Tolsma, an orientation leader. “We are thrilled our feedback has been so high. I think it’s due to the strength of the community the [orientation leaders] made together. We are so close, and we tried to encourage that same response in the freshmen — to be friends and get to know each other.”
Tolsma also attributed some of the success to OL training.
“We are taught to watch group dynamics and to adapt our plans to what we see,” Tolsma explained. “A quiet group isn’t going to want to run around all the time. Our main goal is to make you feel welcomed, loved and not overwhelmed.”
Despite attempts by OLs like Tolsma to cater to the needs of individual groups, some found orientation overwhelming.
Freshman Lydia Koning described the constant activity as “too busy” and compared it to “information overload.”
Forrest Longworth, another freshman, voiced a different opinion. He claimed that Quest was a “good introduction that gave you the feel of Calvin without the school work.” He also emphasized the importance of “the inclusion of people in your group from people outside your own dorm.”
“It created a social background for you that was bigger than the building you lived in,” he said.
Gregory Veltman, who works in the student development office (SDO), defended the busy nature of Quest.
“It was created that way to distract you from what’s really going on. It’s like a high ropes course at camp; you’re focused for the moment on the task at hand when really the big picture of the course is to help you get over your fear of it. It may be a cheesy, corny and forced community, but it gets people to talk.”