While seeing a rubber chicken fly through the air might not be a typical college campus sighting, it was one of the many activities incoming Cal State Bakersfield students got to participate in to ease their college worries Wednesday.
Starting college can be an intimidating task for new students. Trying not to get lost on the first day (Aug. 26), meeting new friends and the pressure of classes and majors are all stressors incoming students face. But CSUB has tried to ease those worries by holding six new student orientations throughout the summer that cover various facets of college life. About 2,200 to 2,300 students have participated in the mandatory orientation.
The day started early at 8 a.m. with a welcome from student leaders, such as Associated Students, Incorporated President Aaron Wan, who gave out his cellphone number to all incoming students, before freshmen and transfers dispersed to different workshops. Students must attend at least four workshops to receive credit for attending.
One of those workshops covered fraternity and sorority life. Current students in Greek life organizations led the workshop, which focused on what exactly fraternities and sororities are, which ones are available on campus and their philanthropic missions. Students also played ice breakers to get to know each other, which included flinging rubber chickens in the air and catching them in a bucket.
Fernanda Aguilar, a transfer student majoring in sociology, and Diana Flores, a freshman majoring in criminal justice, said they were interested in joining a sorority because they want to meet people they would not meet in their major alone.
"I transferred from a tech college, and I would just go to class and go home and I never really met anyone," Aguilar said. "I want to meet new friends and I want to do some community service. I've been looking for ways to get involved with that."
Attending an orientation before school begins Aug. 26 was helpful, but both are still experiencing the usual butterflies.
"It's not the same school that I'm used to," said Flores, who graduated from Robert F. Kennedy High School in Delano this spring. "I'm excited, but I don't know what to expect."
"My sister came here and it was different from community college," Aguilar added. "Though I have some college experience, it's bigger here, and the classes are different."
Those looking to stay active explored the Student Recreation Center and learned about various fitness classes and facilities on campus. Director Mary O'Mahoney explained the center will have different trips and activities — beach days, Yosemite National Park, Kern River, horseback riding, bungee jumping — planned for students this year. Students could barely contain their excitement when they toured the grounds and saw a high ropes challenge course and rock climbing wall are on campus.
"I'm looking forward to all the different adventures," said Grace Bola, a freshman biology major.
But it won't be all fun and games once classes start. Bola and other students realize a new school year means new responsibilities will be on their shoulders.
"I'll have to make so many decisions on everything, and every single one has repercussions," she said. "It's kind of scary," but making new friends and possibly studying abroad during her time at CSUB helps ease those worries.
In addition to taking students across campus and leading workshops, current CSUB students were on hand to offer advice. Student Recreation Center marketing assistant Nico Salum said students should strive to get connected with others in their majors and departments and join student organizations because "they have given me the resources I needed and they helped me with my social life."
But the biggest tip he could offer to students is it's OK to ask for help.
"They get intimidated, especially freshmen," he said, "but there are resources for whatever the issue is, and there are other students who might be experiencing that same problem."
There are 10,839 students enrolled as of Aug. 1, but the total student count will change as the school year progresses.