By JARED THOMPSON – STAFF WRITER
Every year, somewhere in the neighborhood of 320 first-year Centre students run the gauntlet of Extended Orientation (EXO), a “class” that meets once weekly with various members of
Centre’s staff to cover a plethora of topics that will help students make a successful transition into college.
This year, Extended Orientation is divided into four weeks, covering Information Technology Services (ITS), navigating the library, time management, and the Center for Career & Professional Development.
These sessions are supplemented by the New Student Book Author Convocation and the completion of AlcoholEDU and Haven modules. It is important to note that total completion of EXO is required—failure to attend every session and complete every requirement results in one hour of “U” being placed on your transcript, with an hour of “P” for successful completion.
This facet of first-year life is often debated, however, as some of those who have gone through the program claim that it really did nothing for them in terms of bestowing knowledge or revealing important information concerning the college. Are these claimants on to something?
Certainly venues like the library are not new to college students, many of whom came from preparatory schools with comparable workloads to Centre? In addition, in a technologically driven age, shouldn’t students be able to poke around and ultimately figure out Centrenet for themselves? That could certainly be the case.
Yet, EXO arguably isn’t designed for these people. It’s designed for those who haven’t yet had these exposures and reaped their benefits. EXO acts as a balancing force, assuring that all students have the same training and background on the “essentials” of Centre life so that they can make a successful transition into the rigors of college life.
After all, no one really deserves to be put at a disadvantage on their homework due to their inability to navigate a learning management system like Moodle. This difficulty would create a reasonable amount of frustration in students, who may become increasingly frustrated by seeing their peers breeze through the intricacies of Centrenet and Moodle.
The preceding arguments have only touched on the more elementary portions of EXO, however, and have left out the time management and the Center for Career & Professional Development sessions. Time management is arguably the most important skill a student can develop during their time at Centre.
It’s fairly evident that given an adequate amount of time, students can finish work more efficiently on assignments and extracurricular activities but the difficulty lies in using 24-hour days in such a way that you have “adequate” time.
Even if you contend that the activities utilized and conversations had during the individual sessions are ineffective at equipping students with the tools to manage time—you must concede that the session forces students to at least consider time management, allowing them an opportunity to develop time management strategies in their own way.
On the other hand, the Center for Career & Professional Development is not an “essential” college element per se, but should be if you want to maximize your chances of success.
Again, this session brings students into contact with staff who can edit resumes, conduct mock interviews, and connect them with internships, staff who they may not come into contact with during their day-to-day business at Centre.
Making sure this office is utilized is an extremely important goal for the college, both because the college is interested in the success of students, and because students with professional resumes and a long history of internships become happy alumni with potentially deep pockets.
In my opinion, the criticisms leveled against EXO come from a place of inconvenience.
It’s inconvenient for me to spend an hour of my week listening to a reference librarian when I already know how to use the library. Fair point. You could be out doing homework, or you could be out on Breck Beach playing ultimate frisbee. Your classmate, however, is getting familiarized with their new environment and making sure they know how to successfully navigate it.
EXO is a way of not letting anyone fall through the cracks, of assuring each student has at least the opportunity to get what they need.
Is this a blind defense of EXO? Of course not. There are no doubt tweaks that can and should be made to the program. Every session is not refined to perfection and there are surely some amount of redundancies between New Student Orientation and Extended Orientation.
But the college staff members who oversee the EXO program are responsive to weak points of the program, as evidenced by this year’s switch from a Center for Teaching and Learning session to a session with ITS.
On a more pragmatic level though, EXO is here to stay. It consumes ten hours of your life at most and then you leave it in the rearview mirror as you begin to dive headfirst into midterms.
So don’t approach it pessimistically.
Make the best of it, and you might actually learn something that comes in handy on the cusp of some 11:59 p.m. deadline.