For one brief and nerve-wracking instant, my trembling index finger hung suspended over the left-click button until every ugly red dot on the screen transformed into glowing green checkmarks.
Success at last.
Orientation day at UW-Eau Claire began with high hopes, humming nerves and uncontainable excitement for being one step closer to becoming an official Blugold. I showed up on campus that morning dressed in head-to-toe confidence and doing anything I possibly could to avoid appearing like some timid, quivering freshman puppy.
With welcome packet in one arm and binder in the other, I was eager for the long day to begin. Being that ahead-of-the-game type of student I was, I had made sure to pick the very first available orientation date. After all, why not get first dibs on all the best classes?
Almost as soon as the day kicked off, I quickly realized that all of my careful preparation would be challenged in every way possible. Despite my best efforts to be organized and have everything unfold exactly as planned, the realities of college life were there to put me in my place.
If it wasn’t for my fellow Blugolds having my back along every last step of that chaotic orientation journey, I may just have reconsidered my decision to attend college at all.
While the campus tour, variety of information sessions and get-to-know-you games went by without a hitch, class selection and registration caused my blood pressure to steadily escalate for the remainder of the day. Shortly after entering a small room with other English majors, a thick book was plopped on the desk in front of me with an intimidating thud. I was told to look through it, pick out the classes I wanted, and write them down on my planning sheet prior to registration.
As soon as I opened that monstrous volume, my eyes began to blur from staring at the minuscule print of what seemed like a trillion possible classes. How in the world was I possibly going to narrow down my choices and come up with a respectable fall schedule in less than 20 minutes?
At that point, I could have been left to fend for myself like a bird booted from its nest, but thankfully, a student orientation adviser came to my rescue. Before I even had time to call her over, the student helper was at my side to guide me through the course catalog. (I’m guessing she must’ve sensed my obvious distress and saw her opportunity to alleviate the situation). All of that “university requirement” talk had basically just bounced in and out of my ear drums, so at that point, I must admit I was in a state of total confusion.
What exactly is a GE again?
But just as an expert carpenter fashions every last board to fit perfectly in place, the orientation adviser was able to patch all of my classes together and create my schedule masterpiece.
With my future semester courses seemingly sealed, I left the room content and ready to register. What I didn’t know was that as soon as I entered the sign-up lab, my reclaimed confidence would immediately dissolve.
Just like picking out clothes from my favorite online store, I added each of my selected fall classes to my virtual shopping cart. All that I had to do was click “Enroll,” and — voilà — I’d be good to go.
That’s when I saw some curious little red dots next to two of my classes. Failure to enroll …
As quickly as I could, I swapped the two classes out for what I had devised for Plan B and hit the “Enroll” button one more time.
Red dots. Again. So much for first-day perks ...
At this point, I had entered panic mode. Now what? I hastily gathered my things, dashed out the lobby doors and sprinted all the way across campus to re-consult with my adviser about any possible Plan C, Plan D or — if it came down to it — Plan E.
Once again, my Blugold family was there to catch my fall. After just a little searching and rearranging, my adviser and I were able to stitch together a revised schedule.
I scurried out of my adviser’s office and back to the now-empty registration lab where only a single orientation assistant remained. Unwelcome sensations of doubt returned as I gingerly placed each newly selected course in my cart. With hot palm tentatively hovering over the mouse, I pressed “Enroll” one last time …
No red dots.
Each and every crimson bull’s-eye was replaced by a radiant emerald checkmark.
The anxiety-filled air that had accumulated in my chest escaped in one spectacular sigh of relief. Rising from my seat, I left that memorable day of orientation side by side with the patient assistant.
Whether you arrive at Orientation with a detailed game plan or completely clueless, you can count on the proud bearers of blue and gold to get you through the day.