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Building Toward Success: First-Year Orientation 2010

Posted: August 23, 2010
First-Year Week of Welcome (Tuesday, August 24, through Friday, August 27) presents activities tailored for new students and their parents. More than 1,500 students and about 500 parents, relatives, and guests will attend.

“Benchmarked against other schools across the country,” said Trish Dillenbeck, assistant director of orientation and new student programs, “one of the strongest values of our program is its academic focus and the high degree of faculty involvement.” For example, approximately 450 faculty members were present at a picnic attended by students and parents held during last year’s orientation. Dillenbeck said research shows that students who make a personal connection with a faculty or staff member are more likely to persist and graduate.

In this way, last year’s reformatted, weeklong orientation program was an overwhelming success, according to Robert Mead-Colegrove, director of orientation and new student programs.

This year, more peer-to-peer workshops will be offered. “Faculty members and staff will serve as facilitators,” said Mead-Colegrove, “but students and alumni will interact with our new students.” Some 65 current students will act as orientation leaders.

Another success of the new system, Mead-Colegrove said, is a smoother registration process. “Once students sign up for orientation,” he explained, “their University College academic advisers register them for the classes they need, based on recommendations from their academic departments.”

The Class of 2014 and their parents will attend First-Year Convocation at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 25, in the Sports Arena. Parents leave Wednesday evening after a reception with President Podolefsky at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

On Friday, August 27, students will run through a “mock first day of class” to prepare for the start of classes, Monday, August 30. Faculty members will explain how to read a syllabus, use Angel (the college’s Web-based learning management system), and more. Students will also learn study skills and the behaviors that characterize successful students, such as sitting in the front or center of the classroom and turning off cell phones during class.

University College has played a major role in this new approach to orientation, which debuted in 2009 with a switch to the single, weeklong format. Assistance from the Admissions and Residence Life offices, the Weigel Health Center, and various academic departments have all ensured the program’s success.

“The college administration commended the orientation program last year,” said Mead-Colegrove. “We’re very grateful for the strong support we’ve receive on campus.”
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