Orientation: The start of something new

Jul 12, 2012

Orientation LeadersEvery great journey has a starting point. For the college experience, that point is orientation. The purpose of orientation is to familiarize new college students with their chosen school’s processes, expectations and campus. At Heidelberg University it’s not just about learning where the mailroom is, but also about getting involved and connected right away to ensure a good first step for that college journey.

Orientation at Heidelberg is led by a group of current students called orientation leaders, or OLs. These OLs spend two days with new students talking about their Heidelberg experience, leading icebreakers, directing people around campus and answering questions.

During the two days on campus the incoming class begins the process of becoming official Heidelberg students. They take an English language placement test, learn about Heidelberg academic requirements, turn in health forms and register for classes.

They also learn about how they can get involved at Heidelberg by attending breakout sessions such as being a student-athlete, music at Heidelberg, the healthy student and study abroad programs. These sessions give students and parents the opportunity to talk with faculty and staff, ask questions and seek advice.

Of course, a Heidelberg orientation wouldn’t be complete without some fun. Throughout both days the students get to know each other, play cornhole, go to late night bowling and eat pizza in the dorms, where they spend the night. Students leave having already made friends and some find roommates for the fall.

The first of three orientation sessions, held in June, had 277 students and parents on campus. “It’s great to see campus come alive in the summer with students again,” said Andrea Wensowitch, director of Student Engagement. Wensowitch and the OLs coordinate the orientation program to introduce incoming students to life at Heidelberg. “We want to help them understand what resources are available to them and connect them to campus in a meaningful way,” she said.

While formal orientations are in the summer, they continue when students arrive on campus in August. Their first week at Heidelberg, aptly named Welcome Week, is filled with events. From BergServe, to the Student Involvement Fair, to the men’s soccer scrimmage tailgate party, students start having fun the day they move in.

But really, they start enjoying their college experience the day they arrive for orientation.