By Shawn Wood, communications specialist, University of Utah Communications
While many on campus enjoyed time off and exciting vacations this summer, the Office of Orientation & Transition was busy hosting 26 orientation sessions and saw over 7,400 new students and parents before the first day of classes.
The staff, including 31 student orientation leaders, is responsible for seeing all new students—both freshmen and transfer students—to prepare them for life at the U. Orientation sessions are so much more than a tour of the campus. Students get to mingle with new students, register for classes, meet with their academic college for first-semester course planning, learn about graduation requirements and academic learning communities and connect with the campus.
Their efforts paid off. A whopping 86 percent of students registered for courses at orientation and those who didn’t complete their registration at orientation didn’t wait long. Over 90 percent of students registered for classes within seven days of completing their orientation session.
A large part of these successes can be contributed to the personalized contact each student gets at Orientation. If a student completes Orientation and leaves without a full-time class schedule, a staff member will personally call and assist them with course registration. If a student’s schedule is limited because of financial aid, a staff member from the Financial Aid office will contact the student directly and walk them through the details.
During Welcome Week, the first week of the new school year, campus departments and student organizations host a variety events to welcome new and returning students to campus. Orientation led the charge by kicking off the week with the New Student Welcome. First-year students and parents heard from President Ruth Watkins about what it’s like to be a Utah student. They also learned first-hand what college is like from a student speaker, a professor and the lyrics to the “Utah Fight Song” accompanied by the Utah Marching Band. And Swoop was there to pump up the Utah spirit by practicing the “3rd Down Jump.”
Special meet-and-greet events are also held for parents, out-of-state students and transfer students, including the Transfer Swag Swap where students can hand over their old alma mater’s swag for new Utah gear. The week culminates with the traditional Block U photo for all incoming freshmen. Students meet at Rice-Eccles Stadium to form a huge block U, right on the field. All attendees get a free T-shirt and the opportunity to find themselves in the photo once it’s taken.
But efforts don’t slow down once school begins. Orientation & Transition offers continued programming for first-year students with classes like Picture Your First Year, which helps students document their transition to life at the U through photography and art. It also connects new students to campus resources. They also offer coordinated peer mentoring programs: Campus Life Mentors matches first-year students and Crimson Mentors for transfer students. Both programs are designed to offer an immediate connection to the university by pairing them with trained mentors who offer guidance, support and resources.
“We welcome the Class of 2022 to the University of Utah,” said Nomani Satuala, the director of Orientation & Transition. “We know the U is a place where you can succeed. The U can seem large and overwhelming but we want you to find your place, become part of a community succeed academically. If you ever have doubts stop by our office, we’re here for you. And we would like to sincerely thank our campus partners. Through working together, we achieve our number one priority: student success.”