(Originally posted on The Sojourn’s website on September 11, 2014)
This year all students new to Indiana Wesleyan University moved in nine days prior to classes in order to attend a week long of New Student Orientation, which was packed full of workshops, sessions, community service and fellowship.
According to Director of Student Orientation Melissa Laraway, who was also the director of New Student Orientation this year, extending NSO to a week-long event allowed the students to get better acquainted with the campus before the rest of the student body moved in. She also thinks it helped the incoming students become closer with one another.
“They were here with just their class for a week,” Laraway says. “I’m excited to see how that contributes to class unity.”
Laraway, along with Chair of NSO Coordinating Team Brandon Hill, said they treated the schedule as a conference. They also allowed the new students some freedom to make the schedule their own, such as choosing workshops to attend based on their personal needs and interests.
Will Frecker (fr) enjoyed going to the workshops and found one particularly based on his needs.
“I went to one about the food services,” Frecker said. “I am allergic to wheat so I learned about the gluten-free options.”
There were several activities the new students could attend during the week nights, including “Sactivities” hosted by the Student Activities Committee that showed the new students what SAC is, The McConn show hosted by Student Government Association, 80’s dance night and more.
IWU also put together an NSO Welcome Team, which consisted of students who helped set up and tear down events and answered any questions the freshmen had.
The NSO Coordinating Team also gave incoming students a passport for them to get a feel for where everything is on campus. According to Hill, it contained 40 different offices on campus where students could go by the offices and a little bit about what they do. One freshman, Natalie Fletcher, took full advantage of this opportunity.
“I really enjoyed getting to know the campus and go to all the different offices,” Fletcher says. “The passport time gave me the opportunity to meet faculty members, and all of them were very nice.”
Faculty also decided to take out LDR-150, a class all new students were required to take which helped them figure out their life calling. The class consisted of the people in their NSO group during the weekend. Instead of LDR-150, there is now a First Year Experience course.
Every new student was assigned to a group for the entire NSO week with one professor and one upperclassman, called their peer educator. The group will turn into one of their general education classes, and their professor and peer educator will stay with them during the remainder of the semester.
Kenzi Ahnert (so) is a peer educator for Dr. Mark Perry, and their class is Principles of Communication. Each day during NSO week they would meet two times and discuss the assessment tests the incoming students took during the summer as well as get to know one another.
On Friday of that week, they participated in community service with the rest of the incoming students. Perry’s class painted preschool rooms at his church in Wabash, Ind.
Ahnert and Perry noticed how close their class became just by seeing how they were coming into the first day of class.
“I really started to see them open up after the service day project,” Ahnert says. “[On the first day of classes] it was cool to see them come in and be talkative because in my classes it was so quiet because no one really knows each other yet.”
“I had a really good time with my class, I think there has been a bond made between the students,” Perry says. “I hope I can be involved with it every year.”
Despite the business of the week, Morgan Kinkead (fr) thought living on campus a prior to classes helped her feel more comfortable with adjusting to college life.
“There were certain days that too much was going on,” Kinkead says. “But overall I would rather it be a week than just a weekend.”