Pollock Halls

Wolf and Ritner dorms in Pollock on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2018.

Are incoming students missing out with no in-person New Student Orientation? Kyle Hutchinson and Braden Dyreson make opposing arguments.

Freshmen are missing out with no in-person NSO

By Kyle Hutchinson

With NSO being virtual this summer, incoming freshman will not get to enjoy  orientation as I did. Although many may have mixed feelings about the mandatory program, I for one found it rather fun.

My NSO group was fairly unique, which was cool and set me up for college. My group had three boys, including myself, and 14 girls — talk about a ratio.

You get to meet and socialize with over a dozen other students from different areas of the country and world with totally different backgrounds, rather than just coming into college maybe knowing some students from your hometown or from Facebook. Although not super close with anyone I met, it was beneficial to meet a wide variety of people.

I was rather talkative and loud in my group, which hopefully made some feel comfortable and others worried the rest of Penn State would be just like me.

I sat next to my tour guide, the legendary Brandon, and messed around with him while he was giving instruction. I shared stories of the wildness of the preceding week at the beach. I said some jokes that made some laugh while others gave me puzzled looks — but I felt I could be myself around a new group of people because of how welcoming they were and how fresh a new group felt, all wanting the same thing: to find some way or another to fit in.

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There was always something to do with others, from playing sports in the IM Building to cards in your dorm. There’s something for everyone to do, whether it is bubble soccer or huge 30-person volleyball matches. Right off the bat, you learn what you can do in your free time and how to enjoy yourself.

In addition, you get a good layout of the campus, which is always a little difficult to get the hang of at first — but having a rough idea of where things are is helpful for when classes begin. Even the little things, such as knowing where to go in the dining hall for food, matter.

I had also just finished my beach week/senior week, and was a little worn down from being rambunctious for seven days non-stop, and my feet were sun burnt to the color purple.

Alas, NSO is meant to prepare you for college. In college, you’re tired at all times and your feet hurt from walking from the East dining commons to the other side of campus and back again. I feel there was no way to better prepare myself for this ordeal, which would define the months of my freshman year from late August to the middle of March. NSO showed that you just have to deal with it, and go from destination to destination.

The best thing was my sleeping situation. At NSO, you are in Pollock, which many may say has the worst dorms. No AC, chipping walls, multi-shower bathrooms, low roofs — it’s no heaven. Additionally, my roommate was cool and all, but I never got his contact information and I haven’t seen him since.

So, why was it so good then? Firstly, I don’t think I had slept in the same room as a stranger by myself in my entire 19 years of existence. I’d much rather get that first time out of the way rather than wait until late August to meet my roommate without expectations.

Secondly, I found out that I was going to be living in renovated East for the fall, where thousands of incoming freshman call their first home at State College. Because of my experience in Pollock, I had a newfound respect for those unfortunate souls who live in the accursed dorms.

Lastly, it feels cool to be sleeping in a college dorm. You feel grown up, that you’ve made it, and are on the way to the best four years of your life.

Is NSO the greatest thing since sliced bread? By all means, no.

But is it a fun, enjoyable, easy-going way to be introduced to the college process and gives you a taste of what to expect as you transition from the minor leagues in high school to the majors in college? Absolutely — and I feel sorry for those missing out.

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You're not missing out on much with no in-person NSO

By Braden Dyreson

Many soon-to-be Penn State students are probably disappointed to have their first taste of Penn State canceled with NSO being held online.

I (just like most other Penn State students) have gone through NSO, and I am here to tell you that you are not missing out on much. NSO is essentially summer camp, but instead of earning merit badges you sit in a classroom for hours talking about academic integrity policies.

NSO begins with you waiting in line for 45 minutes in order to receive a name tag. Not just any name tag though, this one has your major and group number on it. Your NSO group is like your chain gang — you eat together, walk around campus together, and stand in a circle telling your fellow prisoners your major and an interesting fact about yourself.

The icebreaker game is a staple of any event with structured interaction with strangers. Just like all other icebreakers, you’ll spend the whole time trying to think of an interesting fact about yourself and ignoring whatever “interesting fact” everyone else says.

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Honestly most of your time at NSO is spent getting lectures about Penn State’s policies and procedures. An orientation leader acts like you are all friends and reads every single bullet point on a PowerPoint that lasts forever. You go over stuff that could have been covered in an email or from reading the university's website.

It’s not that the information is bad or unhelpful — but you spend eons going over everything. You go to dinner and expect it to be over, but then you go back to the classroom and spend a few more hours in review.

Once that is all over with, you go to “Nittany Night” or “NSO Fun Time” or “letting students in the IM Building for 30 minutes to act like they had a good time at NSO night" (some stupid name an administrator thought was a good idea).

There, you have the option of playing volleyball, basketball or bubble soccer. If you are sad about online NSO, the only thing missing that’s great is bubble soccer and you only get to play two rounds.

Bubble soccer is soccer (wait for it) where you wear a large inflatable bubble in order to knock over other players “safely.” Bubble soccer is one of the great joys of my life.

After bubble soccer, you go back to the dorm rooms for the night, where an orientation leader tells you that you do not have a roommate and have to be all alone *sniff* (at least that was my experience, most students get a roommate).

The next day, all you do is schedule, which is done virtually anyway. You also get your Penn State ID at some point, but that does not really matter.

All in all, NSO is mostly boring, awkward and not really reflective of the Penn State experience.

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