New Students Find Community Through Orientation Events

Current students help incoming students transition into life at Biola

Oct. 23, 2015 By Olivia Bersin

Biola University Student Orientation Services team, which consists of 71 current students, offer a week of activities for nearly 1,700 incoming freshmen and transfer students each year — a time when many students build lasting friendships.

Students are placed in major and year-specific small groups that meet throughout orientation week. Each group of students are assigned an SOS leader — a current student with orientation training that is ready to answer any questions and familiarize students with the Biola campus. SOS participants often find that this experience produces valuable friendships.

“Some of my closest friendships thus far have surfaced from SOS week,” said Sarah McCormick, junior transfer student and SOS participant. “I can't tell you the exact moments in which these bonds began to form, but I can say that SOS laid the foundation for a multitude of friendships which time and intentionality have built upon.”


This year, the week kicked off with a university welcome event on the grass of Metzger Lawn. It included a special message from President Barry H. Corey.

Many of the SOS leaders were either transfer students or incoming freshmen the year prior and had participated in SOS events during their transition to Biola.

“Every SOS leader has been through what new students are going through,“ said Philippa Briggs, junior SOS leader. “They have experience. They have advice that’s going to be important for those new students, especially when they’re dealing with the difficult transition.”

A welcoming event, including skits, dances from SOS staff and welcoming messages from SOS student directors Katie Olssen, a senior business major, and Gavin Sweeney, a senior communications major, was another opportunity to build community among the incoming class.

Another hallmark event of the orientation weekend is an outdoor Communion Service with incoming students and their families or SOS groups. The event provides time for spiritual reflection and to share in communion as a community.


“My favorite event was the Communion Ceremony because it clearly reflected the spiritual atmosphere for the year,” said Kylie Smith, a transfer student and SOS participant. “Being able to share in the Lord’s Supper with my parents was a sweet blessing and beautiful way to commemorate my changing season.”

The weekend ended with a carnival hosted by SOS staff and student government. Students participated in carnival games, face painting, a dunk tank, free cotton candy, and watched various dances from the Biola dance and cheer teams. In the evening, a student commissioning service concluded the orientation weekend with a symbolic ceremony welcoming new students into the Biola family circle.

Other activities included a beach party that ended in a time of worship around the beach fire pits, group lunches, campus tours, devotionals, and a waterpark day at Splash Water Park including dinner from California’s infamous In-N-Out Burger.  Students who participated in SOS activities have the opportunity to apply for a staff position for the fall of 2016.

Written by Olivia Bersin, iBiola intern. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, media relations specialist, at (562) 777-4061 or

[<Category: Student Life>]

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