It’s that glorious time of year when wave after wave of incoming first-year students descend upon our campus for orientation, shaking us out of those summer doldrums and reminding us that, yes, in just a few short weeks, they’ll be here for real. (Whether summer ever arrives in Seattle is entirely another story.)
The office of New Student and Family Programs takes the lead in presenting the “Summer in Seattle” orientation sessions, but as Director Laurie Prince points out, the sessions are a “university-wide effort, dependent on many colleagues across the campus. This is the university’s orientation.”
The orientation experience, Prince says, gives students “a grounding in who we are as an institution and helps generate more excitement and energy about arriving on campus and actually starting in September.”
Since the program began in 2006, participation by first-year students and their families has only grown stronger. Prince expects that close to 90 percent, or about 750 of the 900-plus freshmen , will attend this year’s sessions. A nearly equal number of parents typically accompany the students.
The robust participation, coupled with a new fire code, necessitated that a fourth on-campus session be added this year for the first time. Prince welcomes the expansion. “(Having four sessions) is nicer, frankly. It allows us to give more personalized attention to the students and their families.”
Those students and families are visiting from all over the country. While on campus, they get a taste of residential life at SU by staying overnight in Bellarmine, and many of them get to meet their roommates. A full docket of activities gives students a better idea of what will be expected of them academically as well as what services are available to them. A session on campus employment opportunities, which was added last year, proved to be quite popular—especially with parents, Prince adds with a laugh. And given the continued shaky state of the global economy, she expects a similarly high interest in the session this year.
Prince and her staff notice that after attending orientation students take more responsibility for their impending time at SU. As one indicator, almost every call that comes into the New Student and Family Program office before orientation is made by a parent, but that after the sessions, students are more likely to phone the office themselves.
As is always the case, a large bloc of SU’s incoming freshman class is coming from Hawaii, so an off-site orientation session will again being held there. (Prince and her colleagues don’t object too heartily to flying out to staff this gathering.) As for international students, they receive an orientation in September coordinated by the International Student Center.