First-Year Experience Prep: The Quiz

Our dean of students office contributes to sessions throughout the university’s fifteen summer orientation programs including a welcome, faculty panel, family program and resource fair. Prior to the faculty panel that I facilitate most mornings, our orientation staff shares a list of discussion questions, a quiz of sorts, for parents and families to share with their student on the ride home from orientation. This quiz is a handy tool for any prospective first-year student and for the families they leave behind.

What is something you learned at orientation that surprised you?

What are your academic and social expectations for the first semester of college?

How will you handle things if your expectations aren’t met?

How often do you think we’ll talk and communicate during your first semester? What
will be the best times for us to connect?

How do you feel about your class schedule? Are you excited about your major?

What will you do if you get yourself into a jam?

How we should approach discussing money while you’re at school?

What information will we share through third-party access at the university?

What kind of meal plan do you think will be best for you?

How will we prepare for move-in day?

What will it be like to say goodbye?

When you think about beginning your first day at the university, what are you most excited about? What are you most nervous about?


What other topics should first-year students and their families discuss before the fall semester?
Advertisements

Digital Storytelling: Adventures in the First-Year Experience

Like many institutions, my university participates in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to measure programs and activities that enhance student learning and personal development. The purpose of NSSE is to help identify areas to improve the undergraduate experience in and out of the classroom.

The scholarship program that I coordinate hosts a first-year seminar course each fall for the 100 recipients of the award. The course is loosely based on the University 101 model framed by John Gardner when he was at the University of South Carolina. It follows an orientation and transition format and includes community-building activities for our program. We have a large group lecture for one hour each week and students meet in recitation groups of a dozen students for a second hour weekly.

In the NSSE spirit of enhancing the course experience and engaging our students, we try to integrate fun and a bit of technology for student projects. Our latest adventure was digital storytelling. Staff and peer mentors selected random movie genres, and a student from each recitation section drew from the genre options. We shared examples of digital storytelling and creating storyboards. We suggested task assignments such as videographer, actor, writer, and film editing to help the project go more smoothly. We made certain to review campus computer labs for the appropriate editing software in advance and provided this information to students. Finally, we stocked up on sale priced Flip Camcorders and gave this assignment to students:

  • Create a media project that embodies the transition to college and your first semester experience.
  • Final Project: No longer than 5 minutes and must include a flash mob.

The final productions were screened during our class “Film Festival” complete with popcorn and soda. Students were encouraged to vote for “Best Picture” and create award categories to fit the projects. Winning productions were featured on our student-run cable news channel.


There were a few bumpy roads throughout the ten-week project, but overall the response and student evaluations of the project assured us that students were engaged and most importantly, community was achieved. On an unexpected side note, our first semester grade point average rose to the highest level in five years, with no change in entering student academic profile. Of course we already look forward to repeating the project with our next student cohort.


Check out the final productions and let me know what you think.

Mystery/Thriller

Blair Witch

Western

Romantic Comedy

Action/Adventure

Musical

Crime/Gangster Part I and Part II

Zombie

Facebook for Orientation webinar

I am joining a panel of student affairs folks for a webinar titled Facebook for Orientation today. Each of us will share a little about how we utilize the Facebook network for linking with our new students at enrollment and beyond. The webinar is sponsored by the very cool people at SwiftKick, creators of RedRover and founders of the Student Affairs Blog. It will be at 12 noon CST. Join us to share in the discussion!

Register here.