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Spring SOS: The forgotten child

Leaders explain the unnoticed mid-year orientation.   |   Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Connor

 

From the moment freshmen arrive on campus in the late summer, they know Students Orientation Services have prepared an elaborate welcome just for them. How could they not? People in red shirts have shouted and waved at them from the entrance of the school and shoved papers with jam-packed schedules into their hands at every turn.

An adventurous orientation 

In contrast, almost no one knows SOS actually holds another orientation week with significantly more adventurous events in the spring for transfers and late freshmen in order to make them feel welcome to the area and the Biola community.

“In fall, we obviously have… around a thousand new students that come in between freshman and transfers. Then this last spring we had 85 [transfers],” said Mackenzie Connor, junior psychology major and SOS student director. “So it’s a very different program in every way, because you’re catering to a huge group, then you’re working with a very small group.”

After a select number of students get the position of SOS leaders, they train through the previous spring and one week in the summer to welcome incoming freshmen and transfers into the Biola community. However, for some SOS leaders, their time does not end there. The SOS staff and student directors request volunteers to lead another SOS week in the spring.

In the week before the spring semester begins, a few SOS leaders who volunteer to arrive early for school lead a group of roughly 80 people through a one-day orientation to Biola’s campus before bringing them to some exciting events.

An alternative introduction

“It’s designed to be a little more low-key, just because transfer students have already done the entrance to college,” said Claire Rodrian, sophomore communications major. “So it’s more like an entrance to Biola instead of welcome to college in general.”

Since fewer students start Biola in the spring semester, they all join just one SOS group, instead of the several small groups in the fall. They participate in one full day of orientation, worship and other events. Then, the following days, they take adventures with the SOS leaders to some of Los Angeles’ treasures, such as the LACMA, Griffith Observatory or the Getty Museum.

“In the fall we have a thousand incoming students, and we can’t take a thousand people to the Getty, whereas now we have 80, so like 40 people will come,” said Rachel Howard, sophomore political science major. “So having a smaller scale allows us to do more things like that.”

A place to call home

Often it proves more difficult to immerse oneself in the school culture when coming in a semester later than most, but SOS leaders attempt to make them feel welcome, showing them sights and joys regular Biola students often enjoy during the school year.

“Transfer students are coming from a lot of other [backgrounds]. Like, ‘What was the reason you transferred?’ So there’s a lot more baggage that they’re bringing into this,” Howard said. “Just being aware that they are all new students but there’s differences in the way that they [interact].”

When spring transfers enter Biola for the first time, they may have a starkly different experience than incoming freshmen. Only a few red-clothed people will greet them on the nearly deserted campus. Yet, these leaders will do their best to show the transfers they are welcome and can call Biola home.

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