Demystifying Orientation

Thursday, Aug 24, 2017
Janice Gho
Juilliard Journal
Students at orientation
Janice Gho at orientation 2016

We are all performing artists.

The notion of getting up on stage and giving it our all has defined our lives, and we come to Juilliard expecting to fully dedicate ourselves to these endeavors. We seek to share our artistry somehow, somewhere, and to form connections through our work. For audiences of five or 500, we perform, despite the sweat, nerves, and flushed cheeks. 

Though we constantly prepare for those nerve-wracking moments, nothing can quite compare to the moment you pull up to the curb of 165 West 65th Street for the first time and see a crowd of unfamiliar faces: older Juilliard students in matching T-shirts, other new students unloading suitcases, and tired parents lugging stuffed Bed Bath and Beyond bags.

When the orientation leaders see you, we will scream with joy. We will point, dance, shout “Welcome to Juilliard!” five times over, swarm your car, shake hands with your parents, and swiftly begin dumping your possessions into giant orange bins. Resident Assistants will check you in and hand you the keys to your dorm room. Over the course of the next two weeks, you will watch these student leaders greet each other with ease and familiarity, navigate the school building, and speak about their experiences at the school.

From the midst of the chaos that is new student orientation, it can be difficult to recognize that every student once walked through the doors of Juilliard for the first time. Perhaps it was when they were 10 years old and auditioning for the Pre-College program. Perhaps it was just a year ago. Maybe they had never even flown on a plane before they came to New York City to audition.

We’re here to enable you to reach your fullest potential in meeting your fellow artists, maneuver through the school and the city, and, most importantly, feel like Juilliard is a place where you can be yourself. And don’t worry, you will!

For me, realizing that these seeming experts were once newbies was humbling—and important to keep in mind in my role as an orientation leader. As soon as she started training us, Lindsey Hresko, assistant director of student engagement and leadership and head of the orientation team, told me and the other student leaders that we have to get into “the mindset of ‘starting over’ in order to guide new students through the orientation process, the city, and the school.”

Demistifying Orientation

Which is to say, we may not each get to have a conversation with every new student, but our common goal as student leaders is making you feel at home. Whether we’ve been here for just one year or many, we all remember what your very first day at Juilliard feels like—whether it’s natural or exhausting at first. We’re here to enable you to reach your fullest potential in meeting your fellow artists, maneuver through the school and the city, and, most importantly, feel like Juilliard is a place where you can be yourself. And don’t worry, you will!

The best part of orientation is all the people you’ll get to meet—the students, faculty, and staff come from all over the world and have all different backgrounds and experiences. “It’s such an incredible learning experience,” Hresko said. “Juilliard students are the most endlessly fascinating group of people I’ve ever met, and learning from each other—socially and professionally—is going to be some of the most useful fun you’ll have.” The friendships you form, performers you collaborate with, and professors you learn from will help create the incredibly nurturing and supportive environment that Juilliard offers.

The talent and dedicated work ethic that surrounds me can sometimes make it easy to forget that Juilliard was once just a dream for all of us, and that through our own hard work we made it a reality for ourselves. Our hope is that orientation will help you to dive into your future years here feeling that you belong, because you do.

Double bassist Janice Gho is entering her third year as a student and her second as an orientation leader.