Orientation a bust

Improvements in welcoming first-years not matched for older students

Each year, over 5,000 first-year students join the University of Minnesota community. For most, it is the first time living away from the protective shelter of parents, hometowns, and lifelong routine, which can be a bewildering and disorienting experience. Last year, to ease this transition, the University started Welcome Week, a mandatory supplement to the short orientation earlier in the summer. Admirably, administration responded to concerns raised in the inaugural year by introducing new programming. Though complaints remain, Welcome Week is a tightly scheduled information blitz. However, those first-year students are not the only new faces to arrive on campus each fall. They are joined by 2,000 transfer students . Many of these transfers face pressures and confusions similar to their first-year colleagues, yet these students are left without sufficient guidance. Transfer student orientation is the equivalent of less than one day of first-year orientation , and transfers are not allowed to attend Welcome Week. The University is missing an opportunity to help these students became engaged members of the community. During orientation and Welcome Week , first-year students learned about student organizations, local businesses, community engagement and volunteerism âÄî even football cheers. The fifty minute âÄòresource fairâÄô during transfer orientation check-in is not an effective substitute for these activities. First-years also have plenty of time to meet fellow students and start making connections within their college and dorm. Administration must recognize the shortcomings in introducing transfer students to the University community and invite transfers to Welcome Week or expand their orientation activities accordingly.