Welcome Week debuts strong, but with some kinks

Incoming College of Design freshmen Hannah Ludens, Laura Schultz and Alex Hudella tour the Guthrie Theater during Welcome Week on Friday. The goal of the tour was to familiarize students with the University and their college, while introducing big design concepts.

Tara Sloane

Incoming College of Design freshmen Hannah Ludens, Laura Schultz and Alex Hudella tour the Guthrie Theater during Welcome Week on Friday. The goal of the tour was to familiarize students with the University and their college, while introducing big design concepts.

Biomedical sciences first-year Sam Westreich moved his yellow global positioning system around in every possible direction, attempting to lead his new College of Biological Sciences classmates to their next clue in a scavenger hunt âÄî but technology wasnâÄôt cooperating. âÄúIt would be really fun,âÄù he said, âÄúif we could get the GPS to work.âÄù The CBS scavenger hunt, part of the UniversityâÄôs new Welcome Week, was one of many activities first-year students participated in as a part of College Day on Thursday. But like the trendy GPS, Welcome Week âÄî the UniversityâÄôs new approach to introducing first-year students to campus life, with an estimated $1.5 million price tag âÄî still has some kinks to work out. Neil Johnston , biology senior and Welcome Week leader for CBS students, said the week is a great idea, but the length of the days is somewhat overwhelming to the students. âÄúNinety-nine percent of people are on board,âÄù he said. âÄúIt might be a little much for some of them, but it will be a lot easier for them to get into classes.âÄù Expecting just to be dropped off and left to âÄúfend for himself,âÄù Westreich said he appreciated all the activities planned to acquaint him with the University. Johnston said even with the technological difficulties, the scavenger hunt was successful because it paired students with partners who will also be in their assigned study groups for fall semester. âÄòI want students to make connectionsâÄô Giving first-year students a chance to meet future classmates is one of the main goals of Welcome Week, Director of First-year & Orientation Programs Beth Lingren Clark said. âÄúI want students to make connections and feel confident on the first day of class,âÄù she said. Welcome Week is designed with the UniversityâÄôs goal of higher retention and graduation rates in mind, Lingren Clark said. Of students who started at the University in 2002, 40 percent graduated within four years. The UniversityâÄôs goal for the incoming freshman class is to increase that number to 60 percent graduating within four years. âÄúWe have done research from last yearâÄôs first-year class and did some analysis of who left the University and why,âÄù she said. âÄúWe are using that to enhance orientation.âÄù Johnston said even though his girlfriend convinced him to be a Welcome Week leader, he couldnâÄôt think of a better way to be spending his time before starting his senior year. Anything that hasnâÄôt gone perfectly will be able to be worked out for next year, Johnston said. Holly Halter , a retail merchandising sophomore and Welcome Week leader, said the new week is more relevant than the weekend camping trip she went on as a freshman and the week will get better each year it continues. âÄúTheyâÄôre learning what it is to be a college student,âÄù she said. CDes students challenged to âÄòrethink and redesignâÄô While CBS first-years roamed campus, College of Design first-year students toured Saint Anthony Main , the Stone Arch Bridge , the Guthrie Theater and the Mill City area, learning from faculty at each stop. Before the students embarked, College of Design Dean Thomas Fisher said itâÄôs the class of 2012 that will âÄúface the challenge of having to rethink and redesign everything in the environment.âÄù The tour was meant to familiarize students with the University and their college, while introducing big design concepts, Kate Maple, College of Design assistant dean for student services said. âÄúAbout half of our students are from outside of Minnesota,âÄù she said, âÄúso we really wanted students to get kind of a physical grounding in where Minneapolis is, where the âÄòUâÄô is and how this all fits together.âÄù Debbie Brzozowski , a first-year pre-graphic design student, said although College Day allowed her to explore the basics of her major, she wanted more time to finish unpacking. âÄú[Welcome Week] is good, but I wouldnâÄôt mind if it was a little less busy,âÄù she said. Brzozowski was also fighting a time change, as she is originally from outside Albany, New York âÄî something she said she was sure other students were also experiencing. Exploring downtown Minneapolis, however, isnâÄôt something pre-graphic design first-year Shawn Donahue said he would have done on his own. âÄúItâÄôs great to finally meet people from CDes,âÄù he said. âÄúIn my orientation group there were only five of us and in my small group there werenâÄôt any [CDes students].âÄù