Graphic by Nate Barton
My crusted eyes creaked opened as I lazily turned over to my phone. My phone’s head-aching alarm meant that it was the morning of August 16. The start of a trip for which I had been anxiously waiting — the Pre-NSO Yosemite Trip.
This was the first time Pepperdine has ever held a freshman program before the legendary NSO. They put the option at the end of the New Student’s checklist, beckoning me every time I submitted a health form. I eventually clicked yes, anxious to see what this five-day long trip with at least 20 other freshmen would offer.
It presented me more experiences than what NSO could have ever given. So much so, that I believe there should be more opportunities such as the intimate Yosemite trip I experienced in order to help make a student feel more at home at Pepperdine.
Many universities across the U.S., from USC to Harvard, have countless opportunities for their freshmen to encounter bonding experiences prior to their orientations. In fact, “…more than 17,000 students from 164 colleges and universities attended outdoor orientation programs in 2006…” according to research conducted by Professor Brent Bell of University of New Hampshire, restated in Holly Ramer’s article “College outdoor orientations programs are on the rise,” published Sept. 17, 2011 in the The San Diego Tribune.
Pepperdine typically offers freshman students a different and short program after NSO. However, pre-NSO trips are better in comparison because it does not allow students to befriend people they with whom were already comfortable. During this summer’s Yosemite trip, every freshman camper came with a nervous but friendly attitude, prepared to make friends with new people from all over the world without the pressure from NSO.
Freshman programs before orientations “…offer a range of benefits: leaving one’s comfort zone, getting in touch with nature, and meeting future classmates who can become lifelong friends,” according to Menacham Wecker’s article “Outdoor orientations can help students acclimate to college,” published Nov. 28, 2011 by U.S. News.
I still love saying hello to my fellow Yosemite campers on the Pepperdine campus. It is not only because we are friendly to each other but because we share that bond of growing and building a trust and openness that we know other Pepperdine students can also share. If you meet an incoming freshman this year, be sure to urge them to attend a pre-NSO trip. It’s sure to change their whole experience.
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