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Honest Carleton University Orientation Ideas 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

It is now April everyone! In academic terms, this is the final stretch. Everyone is rushing to get in their outstanding assignments and prep for the exam period. And now that this school year is almost complete, it is time to start talking about the next one. That’s the way it always goes, except for our lucky graduates. In times like these, I think of the group of new students who are going to be joining us in September. It makes me think back to my own first year. And what is more quintessential to the university experience than first-year orientation? 

In the past two years, I have learned tons of skills which are absolutely vital to staying afloat in school. And they might not be quite what you would expect. In this article, I have offered seven ideas for orientation activities which I believe are honest and will prepare students for the reality of university life. 

1. navigating the tunnel system

Carleton is famous for this so it only makes sense to teach new students allllll about it! Who knows how to get from the Ice House to Azrieli Theatre through our dear tunnel system? Honestly, not me. Yes, of course, there are maps everywhere to help students navigate them. However, I am sure many people (such as myself) are not the most talented at reading tunnel maps. The only way to learn is through doing. Thus, all first-year students should participate in a scavenger hunt through the tunnels to become acquainted with them. Bonus points to anyone who doesn’t cry over the fact that there is absolutely no wifi access in there. 

2. getting to St. Patrick’s building from the other side of campus in under 5 minutes

In case you’re not aware, St. Patrick’s building is at the far end of campus with all the residencies, near the large parking lots on campus. It is conveniently near zero other buildings that have classrooms and thus proves for a fun destination coming straight out of another class. However, this activity only needs to be a requirement for future arts or social science students. These are the students who typically end up having one class in Southam Hall that ends at 1:55 PM and then a class in St. Patrick’s building that starts, somehow, at 1:57 PM. Those minutes go by quickly when you have five kilometres to cross. Also, nothing is better than rushing into a quiet classroom just in time and trying not to draw attention to the fact that you’re struggling to breathe. I truly think first-year students should experience it right away!

3. kicking someone out of a study room

This is an essential step in the study room lifestyle. In order to enter a study room, you unfortunately need to kick someone else out. Yes, it is uncomfortable every time. And it is especially fun when the person in the room is annoyed that they have to pick up their five-course meal and leave. However, most of the time, everyone is nice about it! I am sure this orientation activity will go well for most. 

4. devising a plan to learn a semester’s worth of course material in three nights

This only works when done in desperation. And come late November, they will come to know desperation. For this activity, first-year students should be given a syllabus, a textbook, twenty class PowerPoint slides, and a 72-hour timer. This will prepare them well for exam season. 

5. becoming friends with someone in your class without passing away of awkwardness

Making friends is always awkward unless you’re a smooth and outgoing person (unfamiliar territory). However, there is something particularly awkward about making a friend in class. First-years need to realize that they should just go for it! If you want to get to know more people, you can always suggest making a study group. My advice would also be to try to start by making friends with some classmates in your major since you might see them in multiple classes over time! 

6. getting out of the Mackenzie building alive (from any starting point)

Have you ever seen the movie The Labyrinth? Minus David Bowie, this is the exact same experience. I still have yet to understand exactly what the set-up of this building is — which can be demonstrated in the way that I fear even entering its doors. Once you get in, you can’t get out. Some of my acquaintances have been lost in there for months after attempting to attend a business tutorial. 100% true story. My only concern with this orientation activity is that the students might legitimately get lost and won’t be able to participate in the final challenge… 

7. building a schedule without blocks of six hours of classes straight

Mission: impossible. Everyone is doomed to this fate at some point or another. The students will most likely cry in frustration by the end of this activity. Too many things need to be considered when crafting a schedule. Meeting your course requirements, including tutorials and discussion groups, your part-time job schedule… oh, and of course, the first-years might have the setback issue of a required course is full on the first day of registration. This activity will be a true rite of passage for new Carleton students! [Serious note from the author: contact the Registrar’s Office for help with course registration.]

That sums up my suggestions for some honest Carleton University orientation activities! Of course, they should be accompanied by the typical fun games and team bonding activities to create a well-rounded experience. And with that, all I have to say is… good luck future first-year students!

Aria Mann

Carleton '25

Aria Mann is a Carleton University student. At any given time you could probably catch her reading, playing the piano, or listening to new music. Or writing. Obviously.