What You Need to Know Before ’Cane Kickoff

What You Need to Know Before ’Cane Kickoff

By Dale

What You Need to Know Before ’Cane Kickoff

By Dale
There's a lot you'll need to know before you arrive to campus for Orientation.

Orientation, aka ’Cane Kickoff, is right around the corner, and every day that passes brings you one day closer to your first week as a ’Cane. It's one of the most fun weeks you'll have on campus, with each day bringing with it new friends, new knowledge, and new responsibilities. As excited as I was to start college, it wasn't until I experienced ’Cane Kickoff that it really hit me that I was starting a new chapter of my life, one that would let me explore my potential like I never could before.

Now, I know exactly what you're thinking.

"Wow, Dale! I can't wait to dive right into this amazing week that nothing else in my life will ever compare to!"

Well, perhaps that's not exactly what you're thinking, but I'd like to believe I came pretty close.

There's a lot you'll need to know before you arrive to campus for Orientation, and it can be tricky to keep it all straight. Luckily for you, I've been a student staff member for the past couple of years, so you could say I know a thing or two.

1. Learn how to get to campus.

This might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people arrive in Miami without having figured out how best to get to campus.

If you're flying in, learn what's the best way for you to get to campus from the airport. Maybe that's renting a car, taking a taxi, or using a ride-sharing service—whatever it is, it's good to have that figured out ahead of time so you know where to go and what to do as soon as you get off your flight.

If you're driving from your hometown, plan your route ahead of time and have a backup plan just in case you find an unexpected issue on your original route. Before you leave, make a note of where all the rest stops are because bathroom breaks are important (and Dunkin' Donuts breaks are even more important).

If you're a commuter student, you don't have to worry about move-in but you should still take some time to figure out what your everyday route to school will be. If you're taking public transportation, you'll need to know where your stops are and what times to be there to get to school on time. If you'll be driving, you should familiarize yourself with which streets you should take, what times to leave the house to avoid the most traffic, and where you'll be parking.

Regardless of how you're getting to school, it's a good idea for commuters to practice their trip to school before Orientation starts. This way you won't end up in a position where you're 30 minutes away but a mandatory event starts in 10.

2. If you're a resident student, know when you're scheduled to move in. 

Not every resident moves in at the same time or even on the same day. It varies depending on which residential college you're going to be living in, if you're registered for a pre-Orientation program, or some other factor. So, be sure to check the schedule. You don't want to show up at 8 a.m. August 13 with a full U-Haul only to find out you don't move in until 3 p.m. the next day. It won't be fun, and also, why did you even bring a U-Haul?

3. Pick up your Cane Card. 

Your Cane Card is your student ID, and it's essential you don't forget to get yours. You'll need it throughout the school year to enter the library, the residential colleges at certain hours, and to swipe into athletic events. Cane Card distribution times and places can be found in the ’Cane Kickoff schedule every student gets when they check into Orientation. When you pick it up, you'll get your picture taken. Don't worry about looking too fancy, but definitely make sure you feel comfortable with the way you look—this picture will follow you through your entire undergraduate career and perhaps beyond even that. I've met professional staff members who are UM alumni whose employee ID picture is the same one they took at Orientation. No pressure though.

4. Register your family for Family Orientation.

This isn't mandatory, but it will be beneficial for your families, especially if they still have a lot of unanswered questions. Family Orientation ends on Thursday, August 16, which is a few days before the end of New Student Orientation. Its events are tailored to the specific needs and questions families have, so don't think your families are just getting a rerun of the same information sessions you experience. 

I'm a commuter student and I've lived at home throughout my entire time at UM, so I took for granted that I'd still be living with my mom and didn't tell her about Family Orientation. I still regret it because it would've been a great opportunity for my mom to learn more about the school and enjoy the pep rally in the Watsco Center, aka Canes Take Flight (which is always one of my favorite Orientation events!).

5. Let's talk about your Orientation group!

You might be wondering how you're going to keep track of all the Orientation events, when they're happening, and how to get there. That’s where the Orientation Fellows come in! Orientation Fellows, also known as OFs for short, are sophomores, juniors, and seniors who volunteer a week of their time to introduce incoming students to the U.

OFs are assigned to a group of students (a specific floor in the residential colleges, a group of first-year commuters, or a group of off-campus transfers) and lead their students through all the Orientation programming. However, they're not just here to herd around new students. They're also here to debrief you on different information sessions, answer your questions, and help you make the most of Orientation. Think of them as the first mentor you get at the U!

Also joining your Orientation group will be your Resident Assistant if you're living in the dorms, your First Year Fellow if you're a first-year student living in the dorms, your Transfer Assistant if you're an off-campus transfer student, and/or your Commuter Assistant if you're a first-year commuter student.

6. Always carry the essentials with you.

When you check into Orientation, you will be given a free drawstring bag. Don't just throw it in the corner of your room, never to be seen again; actually use it! It's more than a snazzy freebie you get at check-in, it's a practical necessity during the week as there's a lot you'll want to be carrying. One of those things is sunscreen—you'll spend a fair amount of time outdoors and you don't want to be That One Person in class on the first day who already has a sunburn.

On that same note, you should always pack a refillable water bottle. Miami can get pretty hot in August, so it's important to stay hydrated. You can find water fountains with stations to refill your water bottle all over campus, which is super convenient, environmentally friendly and saves you a lot of money in the long run compared to buying bottled water every day.

7. Come ready to put yourself out there! 

One of the biggest takeaways from Orientation is all the new connections you make across campus. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with that person in your group who seems like they could be a cool new friend. Ask your OF as many questions as you want—it's what they're here for. Say hi to that professor or staff member with the interesting presentation. You only get to go through ’Cane Kickoff once, so make every minute count. I hope you come to love the week as much as I do!