500 Words At A Time: My First First Day

Orientation and or the cattle call of incoming students was almost the end of my college career experiment. I am what the school categorizes as a non-tran or non-traditional student. In other words, I did not arrive here out of high school. Here is where Ferris State University can make a huge difference for students like me, people who have life experience such as advanced age or combat experience, make a separate orientation process.

Because the trip to orientation was long, I brought the entire family with me. The goal was to get registered, take care of a couple of other details such as banking, and get out of town or at least in town to wander around. It was obvious from the get-go that this was going to be a pre-arranged show and I, at 40 something and having been to college twice before was going to be treated like the straight out of high school crowd.

Thankfully I took our boy with me through the initial line where students picked up their folder of orientation and promotional material and some SWAG. Our boy is really cute and charming with the ladies, of which there were many working the line, by the end of the line I had a folder. He had a Ferris State University bag, shirt, pen, pencil, and candy. Lots of candy.

The line wound this way and that, eventually after telling far to many people, “I don’t need that” or “I already took care of that” I finally got to banking. The bank representative was more than happy to deal with an adult who knew what they wanted and needed versus the students who often ignored the bankers advice. Here is a huge time saver, take care as much stuff before you attend orientation, thus take care of insurance, health care, housing, student ID, and so on. Get as much as you can done and save yourself a lot of hassle. I even took care of signing into the Ferris State University website from home, but that was not good enough. I had to demonstrate that I could do that in front of our groups handler.

Try to imagine a large group of adults most of whom are parents to the students who seemed overwhelmed and/or disoriented and my motely band of two adults and two children. A couple of times we told people that our children were attending college, they both had that Webster’s disease. The looks we got. With that mental image, picture filing into an auditorium for the longest and most pointless presentation for non-traditional students, but good to hear for those about to be on their own.

I tried to explain that I did not need to hear,

  • “Do not rape.”
  • “Do not drink.”
  • “Do not do drugs.”
  • “Do not be violent.”
  • “Do attend classes.”

But nobody was listening. I figured since I was pretty up to date on common sense and civics, that a better use of my time would be to register. NOPE and this where the wheels fell off the bus.

Tired from the long day, frustrated because I have to endure things that no adult should have to endure unless they are walking their kid through the process, which by the way seems wrong, make the kid do the work, and hungry-food was promised AFTER registration I trudged my way into registration.

As each students name was called out an advisor from that program gathered them together. As usual, I was the outlier.

“Nathan Richmond.”

“Over here.”

“Your my ENGLISH STUDENT!” she shouted (yes shouted and waved my folder).

Turns out for this orientation batch, I was the only humanities degree. Except that I was in the wrong program. I was and am a Technical Professional Communications Degree…and her mood crashed, along with mine.

Handing me my folder, she said, “I took the liberty of registering you for classes.”


“Here is your class list.”

None of which worked. Nobody had bothered to ask me about our scheduling, you know the kids and Barb’s pharmacy classes. I imagine that for most high-school entry students this works out great, but for non-traditional students we come in with baggage and we need to be able to work with and around our baggage or at least have it acknowledged.

Situation explained, she gave me a quick rundown on how to register for classes and left to…well I don’t know. By this point I was pissed. Barb saw that I was about to get up and leave. She sat down next to me and we started trying to register. One by one the other students and advisors left, until it was me and some other advisor, who thankfully helped.

TWO HOURS. It two hours and a really bizarre conversation about math or my lack of math for 20 years before I was registered. Suffice to say I missed out on the food and was considering not bothering, after all if orientation was this difficult what were classes going to be like?


3 thoughts on “500 Words At A Time: My First First Day

  1. Sounds miserable.

    My college (different part of the state) had a great orientation program. Two and a half days for under-21’s, and 8 hours for non-traditionals. (I can’t bring myself to use “non-trans” – it makes me feel like I’m talking about transgender, or rather, non-transgender… Which is just weird.) Placement testing, department overviews, 1:1 time with advisors, register, student ID, and done. I worked for the department one summer with the under-21s and they had their shit together. (The orientation department, not the non-legal non-trans.) I wonder if it’s still that way. I remember visiting my old campus in 2007 and everything just felt so… Foreign.


    1. Ankoku1331

      It was and if not for Barb and the kids I would have walked away. Glad I did not, but it was close.

      See your college had the right idea, non-traditionals (I agree non-tran sounds like a different subject) should have a different orientation.


  2. Pingback: 500 Words At A Time: Math, My Old Nemesis | Speaking Out On Life

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