Every fall before classes begin, Barnard’s New Student Orientation Program (NSOP) rolls out the welcoming bins for first-year and transfer students. New students learn about the vast resources available to them, including answers to important questions such as parents’ roles and whom students can speak with about the NSOP process.
NSOP chair Nina Lam ’19 shares her tips for surviving the big move.
As someone who has worked with NSOP previously, what have you learned from previous years?
I think I've learned a lot about the ways enthusiasm and authenticity play a role in leadership and the success of orientation. Last year, I struggled as an orientation leader (OL) to find a balance between being enthusiastic and feeling like I was being over-the-top. I wanted to excite my students, but I also wanted to be honest with them. I realized the genuine excitement I feel as a student leader is what will make new students excited too. Being an OL has taught me about the importance of intimacy and personal interactions, while working on the committee has taught me to look at the big picture and to think about how to give students the best possible experience. Students arrive long before they are able to check in because they are excited to be on campus and to move in. It’s really gratifying to see their excitement because it reminds me of all the things I love about Barnard.
What is the question asked most often by new students?
A lot of students ask about the Barnard-Columbia relationship, but I think it is something that takes on a unique meaning to each student as they enter into communities at Barnard and Columbia. Beyond that, new students really just ask a lot of logistical questions—where to go and when, what deadlines do they have to meet, and what dates they have to remember. Just getting through the basics of NSOP and the beginning of the semester is the most important thing to new students. The rest falls into place later.
What is your best, secret advice for new, incoming students?
I don't know if this is super-secret, but the advice I always give is the same advice my OL Alana Koenig ’18 gave me when I was a first-year: It's okay if you don't feel like you've made your new best friends after the first few days; it's okay if it takes a while to find your people because you will find them. To Alana’s advice I would add it's okay if college doesn't feel natural and normal right away. It took me an entire semester to feel at home at Barnard. My advice is to take things one day at a time and forgive yourself if you're still homesick in December. It's really important to be patient, both with Barnard and with yourself.