thefreshman.jpgAs it is the week before Labor Day, many area schools are welcoming a new class of students to New York in what is generally known as an orientation week. The New York Sun reports on various efforts schools put into shepherding thousands of 18-year-olds into NYC.

First-year students arriving at Barnard, Columbia, and New York University have many activities to choose from this week, including: yoga classes, exclusive tours of the new Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, chartered Circle Line cruises to the Statue of Liberty, mini-manicures and aromatherapy at on-campus spas, Coney Island beach parties, scavenger hunts in Times Square, walking tours of the East Village and Park Slope, shopping expeditions to SoHo, outings to popular local eateries such as Magnolia Bakery, and a chance to compete for free tickets and reservations to the city's hottest shows and hard-to-get-into restaurants.

NYU has found that orientation is as useful for parents as it is for students. Marc Wais, the vice president of student affairs at the school said "It can be a very emotional time. Sometimes it's a challenge to politely ask them to go home." One parent was quoted in the Sun as if his son was being kidnapped, rather than sent to school. "This is our second child we've lost to New York City."

NYU has a series of orientation programs to help confused teens from getting lost in the big city. We thought this one sounded interesting: "Facebook in the Flesh: Meeting new people face to face can be intimidating. The workshop focuses on building social networks in person." A blog at Columbia University offers freshman several useful orientation tips, including pointers on how not to be obnoxious, packing light, and advice to wander off campus and see other parts of NYC, like downtown Manhattan.

The Sun notes that not all orientation weeks are fun and games. Public universities, which tend to cater to local students already familiar with the city and focused on college years as an educational opportunity rather than an extended urban field trip, have orientation weeks that highlight workshops on how to use the library and time management skills. And maybe how posting photographs on Facebook can be trouble.

Move-in week even affects city residents long-removed from their days of formal education. NYU is offering to pay downtown residents for private garage parking to make up for any inconvenience caused by shutdown streets as students moved in yesterday. But our favorite quote in the Sun might be the neighbor who welcomed NYU students, but wishes NYU could be more helpful towards its new students. "It keeps the neighborhood youthful and contemporary, but they don't know how to walk, they take up five abreast on the sidewalk, it's nerve-racking. They should have a class on how to live in the city."