UNIVERSITY PARK — Students new to Penn State’s University Park campus this fall are participating this summer in a more in-depth orientation process.
In an effort to ease new students’ transition to the University, the longer, two-day New Student Orientation program has added more informative sessions for incoming students and their parents or guardians. Students learn more about student aid and financial literacy, diversity, personal responsibility, alcohol use/abuse, sexual assault prevention, academic support opportunities, clubs, organizations, study abroad, undergraduate research and more. The addition of the second day also gives new Penn Staters an opportunity to socialize with their peers and an orientation leader to make friends before the semester starts.
The Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs began hosting incoming students May 19 and will continue through July 19. On average, the office runs through five different orientation groups each week, meeting daily except on Saturdays. This program officially replaced the First-Year Testing, Consulting and Advising Program, or FTCAP, in January 2013, and already has had positive reviews from parents and students, according to Dan Murphy, director of the Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs.
“We’ve asked parents who had been through FTCAP with older siblings, and they seem pretty excited by the changes,” Murphy said. “They’re happy to see that there are more opportunities for their student to make connections with other new students before school starts, and I haven’t heard much complaining about the additional day.”
Murphy said that the expanded programming for parents and families has been appreciated as well. Families now attend a dedicated session on student health, safety and personal responsibility, networking opportunities with other families, an overview of career and internship support services and, a question-and-answer session with a panel of orientation leaders, who are current Penn State students, which Murphy said parents really enjoy.
“There have been some really great conversations at these sessions,” Murphy said. “A lot of their questions are about how students can get involved and find opportunities to connect with other students, about transportation around campus, computers and a lot more. For us it’s important that the orientation leaders are genuine and honest.”
There are 32 Penn State students helping with orientation. Of these, 26 are orientation leaders that lead discussion groups with parents and students and six orientation associates that serve many different roles during each program.
Casey Crouse, a finance and accounting major, is one of those leaders. The junior from Lovettsville, Va., said that this job has been a great learning experience for her.
“As leaders, 26 of us are responsible for leading small group discussions, sharing information about resources on campus and providing opportunities for social networking,” she said. “We all have become so connected with each other because of our passion for Penn State and our desire to welcome the new students into one of the greatest communities in the world.”
Khadyon Reid, a junior from Brooklyn, N.Y., studying enterprise risk management, said he applied for the position because he wanted to have a positive impact on the University.
“I couldn’t be happier that I decided to accept this position,” he said. “I look forward to working with new first-year students and parents every day and being able to have a positive impact on their transition experience. Throughout the many hours of training for this position we were told that we would be able to make a positive impact on the lives of first-year students, but at the time I had no idea that they would also make a positive impact on mine. Talking to new students every day about where they want to go in life, and how Penn State is the perfect place to help them get there, has allowed me to reevaluate where I would like to go in life and where I see my self post-graduation.”
In addition to the new orientation, the Penn State Reads program is new for first-year University Park campus students. The reading program encourages intellectual engagement with students. This year, students will read “Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times” by Eyal Press. Students will discuss the book together during Welcome Week in the fall and there will be planned events related to the reading on campus.
Students unable to attend any of the NSO programs between May 19 and July 19 can attend an August session.