Flexible orientation schedule aims to better prepare incoming students

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Photo Credit: Emily Ng | Daily Texan Staff

Hundreds of incoming freshmen arrived at the University on Monday for the first orientation session of the summer.

The incoming freshmen flooded University residence halls, took tours of buildings on campus and met with their advisers to register for fall classes and participated in a dodgeball tournament.

Orientation, a requirement for every enrolled student, aims to provide incoming freshmen with all the information they’ll need about college life to be prepared for their first semester.

Along with informative seminars about campus safety and resources, the enrolled freshmen were able to participate in icebreakers and group sports on their own time. The online orientation schedule provided the students with a flexible timeline.

“We had some free time to do other stuff,” prospective education freshman Victoria Smith said. “There’s optional activities, really fun things to do. We got to meet campus clubs in meetings. Just really cool opportunities.”

Orientation advisers, who spent months preparing for the camp-like activities, supervise all events.

Janna Adkins, an orientation adviser and biology junior, said preparations have been happening since January.

“We started taking a three-hour class and then we just finished a two week workshop at the end of May,” Adkins said. “It’s been a long journey, but we’re definitely prepared to welcome all the new students and we’re really excited to have them here.”

Adkins said the seminars and activities will help incoming freshmen with the transition from high school to college.

“I think it’ll prepare them a lot with all the stuff we have going on such as the required programs, like 'The Ties of Texas' about social responsibility,” Adkins said. “There’s also been a booklet about campus safety. It just kind of gives them that college perspective about what to expect when they get here.”

Jake Polansky, an orientation adviser and business sophomore, said he thinks that the games, skits, seminars and icebreakers are all necessary to break the tension of starting college.

“I think that we do a really good job of preparing them for the kind of culture that UT has,” Polansky said. “I also think we do a great job at helping them get acclimated in an academic aspect.”

Although there are a few required seminars for everyone, students from different majors have different meetings, according to Adkins.

“For the most part, they are organized by major because they have college meetings from day one,” Adkins said. “Sometimes in their room wings, they could be in the same room as someone with their major. It’s organized by the college to make the orientation process easier.”

Kennedy Ledesma, a prospective freshman and business student, was able to meet other future business students in her orientation seminar.

“I woke up, went to breakfast, went to McCombs for a business school meeting, had some free time, and then I met with my orientation adviser,” Ledesma said. “The different sessions and just getting ready for my classes have calmed me down a lot more for my transition from high school to college.”

Dodgeball tournaments were held near Jester, stargazing parties gathered on the rooftop of the astronomy tower and four hours were dedicated to playing board games in the residence halls.

Before orientation was over, students had to meet with their advisers and register for fall courses.

“We met with advisers to help correlate our course schedule for next semester, and kind of construct what we want to do, to help finish our degree,” undeclared freshman Christina Paez said. “We also had organizations that we could go attend and meet with to see how we can get involved next year.”