Early one morning as they prepare for their first college classes, brand-new California State University, Northridge students are greeted at 8 a.m. by hundreds of their peers in red shirts, cheering and dancing to music at the University Student Union. The new Matadors are served with breakfast, coffee and tea as they learn about CSUN student life through New Student Orientation (NSO).
Incoming freshman Kenny Uong, an urban studies and planning major, took it all in with a big smile, barely containing his excitement.
As the sun rose, Uong rode the Metro bus from his home in Glendale to the CSUN Transit Center, about a 90-minute trip. He prefers to take the bus everywhere.
When he arrived, Uong signed up for his NSO group, grabbed a goody bag and enjoyed the morning warmup with some ice breakers, cheers and giving Matty the Matador a rose. He was “sorted” (but not with a Sorting Hat) into one group of students with similar interests and the same major. He couldn’t wait to start his next chapter of life at the university, Uong said.
“I am really excited to go to CSUN, and I am excited about the campus,” said Uong, 18. “I like the community and the people they have here already.”
NSO, an annual CSUN tradition since 1958, introduces new Matadors to student life and resources to help navigate their academic journey. The students take tours and get to know the campus layout and buildings — to help in their preparation for the fall semester, which begins Aug. 25.
On the campus tour, Uong checked off each building on his campus map and took notes, class schedule in hand. With his major being urban planning and studies, Sierra Hall was one of the building locations he needed to know.
“So far, I have had the chance to get information about the different lecture halls at CSUN, where my classes will be, Bayramian Hall and the Student Health Center,” he said.
The excitement of walking around CSUN for the first time for many new students is an adventure of its own. NSO leaders are upperclassmen that along the way give students tips and tricks on where they can hang out, the importance of attending professors’ office hours and silly stories.
CSUN’s Office of Student Involvement and Development (OSID) prepares for months, training NSO leaders to give the best introduction to incoming students each year.
According to OSID staff, this year organizers welcomed more than 6,500 new students, who toured the campus in NSO groups from Aug. 7-24. Participants included first-time freshmen, as well as those transferring from community colleges and international students.
Students who attend NSO receive a warm Matador welcome from CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison or Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students William Watkins, a meet-and-greet covering student life resources, and they also meet with their college’s dean and academic advisors.
While on the tours, students watch the TAKE program, which is a performance of topics such as relationships, body image, prejudice and overall student transition.
For first-time freshmen, NSO can have a positive impact on setting up new students for success. New students are given several opportunities to figure out campus life because NSO leaders give students real-life advice and recount personal experiences in hopes that the new Matadors will learn from them.
As he boarded his bus home, Uong felt confident in his college decision.
“I really loved the campus tour, the different presentations about academic success, student life, classroom expectations, and the TAKE skits that spread powerful messages,” Uong said. “I would like to thank the organizers of New Student Orientation. I now know that I have made the right decision to attend CSUN.”
For more information about NSO, please visit https://www.csun.edu/nso