During orientation, students made use of Campus Way, where they had the opportunity to ask different departments and clubs more information about how to get involved. (Caroline Rode/TommieMedia)
Incoming St. Thomas freshmen registered for classes with ease this summer thanks to a decision made by Enrollment Services and Student and Academic Affairs.
Associate Dean of Students Tori Svoboda said this year there are significant changes in the daily schedule of orientation, one of which includes meetings between the students and their counselors.
“A major driver for this change was student feedback about how anxiety-producing it was to try to find the right class in a large group when classes were quickly filling,” Svoboda said.
Academic Counseling director Susan Anderson said the change allows each student to receive one-on-one time during the registration process.
“The Academic Counseling team felt that it was important to deliver this enhanced individual attention to new students,” Anderson said.
Freshman Gavan Winkels, who plans on majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Catholic Studies, said his meeting with a counselor helped him to map out his first year with ease.
“I didn’t know how I would have been able to plan all of that on my own,” Winkels said. “They know what they’re doing.”
Another change made was the shortening of the traditional skits by orientation leaders.
Junior orientation leader Holly Lynn said the shortened versions of these skits send the same message while allowing for more of the leaders’ prep time to be focused on each day’s agenda.
“We did practice the skits, but a lot of time was spent more going over logistics of the daily schedule,” Lynn said.
For the first time, the Anderson Student Center was used as the central hub for orientation.
Sophomore orientation leader Jabulani Mhlanga said this gave freshmen the opportunity to become acquainted with the building.
“Incoming freshman got to move around to a lot of different rooms during orientation,” Mhlanga said.
Students were able to be in areas such as Campus Way, the bowling alley, conference rooms and the View. During orientation, the View was open for use by students and parents.
“We are blessed to have such a fantastic physical space that promotes conversation and community,” Svoboda said.
Svoboda said the Orientation Leadership team spent 80 to 100 hours together focusing on communication and teamwork, leadership and diversity, and rehearsals and logistics.
“The team functions so well because each individual member makes a commitment to doing their best work and supporting each other,” Svoboda said.
Svoboda said that during each session more than 100 students, faculty and staff members contribute to the program.
Mhlanga has enjoyed the experience of being an orientation leader.
“Meeting people who are so different helps you discover yourself as an individual and a member of a productive community,” Mhlanga said.
Caroline Rode can be reached at email@example.com.