Opportunities acquaint First-Year students with their new campus
It’s that time of year again; the offices of admissions in the UNC system have sent out their admission letters to anxiously waiting applicants. In just six months, those accepted will make their way to campuses across the state of North Carolina to become the incoming first-year class.
This is an exciting and daunting time for new students, as they leave home, many for the first time, and travel to a new learning environment. Campuses are ready to help with this transition by offering tailored programs to help first-years adjust to college life and make them feel at home.
The campuses often begin this process before the school year starts with first-year student orientation. These orientations vary from campus to campus, but their purpose remains the same; not only to orient students with their campus, but get them excited about a new academic year.
Campuses customize these orientations to their unique cultures, like Winston-Salem State University’s orientation spiritedly titled RAMDITION. WSSU’s website informs students that their orientation will be “a series of engaging sessions designed to help you define the world around you and establish your place in it, as well as social activities which are an exciting and fun way to ease your transition into college life.”
Dr. Karrie Dixon, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs for the UNC System, said that programs and courses like orientation “have proven to be beneficial to the success of students because they focus on making sure the student has the right tools to navigate their college experience with the end goal of graduating.”
Some of these orientations also aim to help first-year families get acquainted with the school. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a Parent/Family orientation at the same time as their student orientations. Families can come to campus together to learn everything the campus has to offer, and feel familiar with their student’s new surroundings.
The orientation for first-years does not end with one week during the summer, but continues in different ways throughout their first-year one campus.
One way is through First-Year Seminars, which are classes offered to first-years in particular. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro website explains that “seminars are small discussion classes taught by faculty selected for their commitment and interest in undergraduate teaching. The seminars have no prerequisites and do not presume any special knowledge about the topics to be covered.”
These seminars help students understand a college workload while also covering interesting and diverse subject matters.
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington is helping first-years with seminars that not only present higher level work expectations of college, but also help them give back to their new community.
Caroline Cropp, Internal Communications Specialist at The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, said a First-Year Seminar, “supports new students academically and personally as they integrate into the college experience. The small, highly interactive cohorts are designed to foster a sense of community, increase peer connections and an awareness of campus resources and activities.”
While campuses are making sure first-years have all the tools they need, they also note that being a first-year student does not always mean that you are a first-year college student; some first-years may be transfer students, not new to college, but new to the campus.
Once such student is Kari Barrows at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Kari laid out her fears when she transferred to the new campus asking herself, “Will I feel behind? Will I be able to keep up? Did I miss the chance to join any of the clubs and organizations I’ve read about? And, even though I feel too old to be worrying about this, will I make any friends?”
In retrospect, she explained all the ways that UNC Asheville helped with her transition concluding that “there is a reason UNC Asheville was ranked #1 for “Making an Impact” in Princeton’s 2016 review.”
The University is eager for its first-years and all that they will bring to the diverse system. The campuses are ready to help their first-years become next years.
Through first-year oriented programs students, like Kari, see that once you become a part of the University, the University becomes a part of you.
Welcome to the University of North Carolina.
Written by Kathryn Walker, a 2016 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill