New Student Programs tweaks orientation
Freshman Asya Shaw left orientation on the last day because the program didn’t keep her attention.
“After a while I was like, I’m tired of people talking to me,” she said. “The structure was like they were trying too hard.”
Three thousand freshmen attended the 2013 Welcome to Towson orientation, according to New Student Programs.
“They did things a little bit differently this year,” orientation leader Alexa Geller said. “But I think it worked out.”
This year the orientation groups were done in community groups on Sunday, with students who lived on the same floor, or shared a similar living situation. On Monday’s orientation, freshman were grouped by academics, with those who shared a major.
Sophomore Tiara Bolden said she attended her entire freshman orientation last year. But it was too long and that New Student Programs shouldn’t make it in the morning.
“They just kind of force you to be cheesy with people,” she said. “I guess they tried.”
Orientation leaders are current TU students who guide freshmen during their Welcome to Towson activities.
“I think the staff did a really great job preparing us for anything that could happen,” Geller said.
When students asked if something was mandatory, orientation leaders knew what to say, according to Geller.
“We learned some techniques to get students to reflect on whether or not they should be there,” she said.
Smaller groups of students were easier to keep interested in activities, she said. Geller had about 20 students in her group on Sunday, Aug. 25 and about 50 on Monday, Aug. 26.
Students in the smaller group were more engaged in activities and less interested in leaving, Geller said.
Shaw said the icebreakers were good, but not when they were excessive. She was surprised by how welcoming Towson was.
“I did like the getting to know people part,” she said.
Orientation leaders try to impress on students the unique value of what orientation offers, said Lisa Reagle, director of New Student Programs.
“If you want to see what campus offers, if you want to meet new friends, if you want free stuff, this is your one chance,” Reagle said.
Packet pickup, social action theater, civility and diversity training and the amazing race are the required parts of orientation but students are highly encouraged to attend all of Welcome to Towson, Reagle said.
“That’s the essence of college, is it required or not,” she said.
Students are not required to go to college, they choose to be there, Reagle said.
“Just like you have orientation for a job, college is like a student’s job for the next four years,” she said.
The convocation and speaker were entertaining, freshman Nancy Kyei said. She said she didn’t like having to walk all over campus for the different parts of the orientation.
“I was there the whole time but sometimes I wanted to leave,” she said. “Some of my friends left. I didn’t have anything else to do, so I stayed.”
New Student Programs is always coming up with ways to make orientation easier to attend.
For example, students may not want to walk around with a paper orientation schedule but they can look at the events right on their phone through the Towson U smartphone application, Reagle said.
New Student Programs listens for feedback about orientation, she said.
“Social media is hugely helpful,” Reagle said.
New Student Programs compares year-to-year attendance records for activities to see what changes keep students there.
Tiger Talks, a pre-orientation program held in July and August saw a 40 percent growth in attendance over last year, Reagle said.
Geller said she appreciated the opportunity to help shape new TU students. She only regrets not being an orientation leader sooner, she said.