By Catherine Lindsay, news correspondent

With two orientation sessions already completed and five more to come, thousands of students are beginning to discover Northeastern University’s campus, academics and student life through activities such as picking classes and attending a barbecue on the quad.

Aynha Nonez, an undeclared student from Randolph, Mass., has enjoyed the opportunity to acquaint herself with campus.

“I feel like there are a lot of activities for us to get to know each other and feel more involved on campus,” she said. “They’re also making sure we have all the information we need about academics and financial aid.”

Students have also been able to get a feel for the campus and learn their way around the various buildings. Julia Spada, an engineering major from Morristown, N.J., said she enjoyed seeing the community’s “vibe” and noticed many people on campus seemed to know one another.

Others, including health science major Amanda Hickey from Chapel Hill, N.C., have found that the campus has been easy to navigate once they have walked through it a few times.

“Through all the activities and just walking around and going to meals, I’ve become a lot more comfortable with where I am and figuring out how the campus is set up,” she said.

These activities and other breakout sessions have allowed the new students to meet and bond with their peers.

According to Hickey, many students attending orientation are enjoying the social aspect of orientation, but are nervous about making friends once they arrive on campus in the fall.

Bonnie Melanson an undeclared student from Asheville, N.C. was pleasantly surprised.

“It’s been a lot better than I thought it was going to be because orientation is always awkward, but they’ve done a really good job so far and I’ve liked a lot of the people I’ve met,” Melanson said.

Shantavia Craigg, a business administration major from Silver Spring, Md., said the session started out uncomfortably as no one knew each other, but soon, people began to make friends as they found others with whom they have things in common.

Other students, such as business administration majors Brenden Johnson of Foxborough, Mass. and Joseph Coverly off Queens, N.Y., feel that having the parent orientation alongside theirs makes the adjustment process much smoother.

“I think the way they do orientation, with parents side by side and also not right before the start of classes, is nice because it allows us to adjust before we get thrown into everything,” Coverly said. “I think they’re doing it really well, allowing us to get ready.”

Austin Hoeft, a business administration major from Minneapolis, Minn, said that orientation allows for a smooth transition from high school.

“We’re still connected to a lot of people even though we’re moving away from home,” he said. “It’s not like we’re left alone in a city that we know nothing about.”

Apart from the evening activities on Sunday, which allowed students to explore the city and discover Faneuil Hall among other things, the incoming freshmen have for the most part not been able to see Boston, signing a contract stating they will not leave campus.

Lisa Commendatore, director of student orientation and parent/family programs at Northeastern, explained that this contract outlines the expectations of the university while on campus for orientation.

“Students are expected to reside and remain on campus throughout the scheduled program, unless taken off campus by staff,” she said. “They would miss crucial information, but also we care immensely about their safety and well-being.

There were a few issues raised during orientation. Students like Craigg and Hoeft were worried about not being able to visit their future dorm buildings, something they felt would help them plan for the fall.

Others also felt that the informational panels were long and tedious.

“I haven’t really liked all of the sessions where we sit there for a long time and everyone is exhausted from traveling and not fully paying attention,” Hickey said. “The information could all just be in a booklet.”

Melanson and Coverly agreed, saying they preferred the outdoor, smaller sessions and wished the information had been broken up with activities.

The incoming freshmen also felt that the financial aid packages Northeastern provides, the opportunities Boston offers and the co-op program were important factors in their college decision.
“I really wanted to get out of the south because I’ve lived there my entire life, and I loved Boston when I visited and the money they offered me was great,” said Melanson. “It is an amazing school, so passing up the opportunity to go was stupid.”

Photo by Catherine Lindsay