As the parent of now two college students, I've had a front row seat in viewing the approaches taken by two schools in facilitating the transition for incoming freshmen to campus life. The shift to college can be both exhilarating and terrifying for many young students, so making this passage as smooth and as welcoming as possible is critical for shaping a successful college experience. My daughter is now a junior at a mid-Atlantic university and I was impressed with how well-coordinated the welcome program was for her and other incoming freshmen a few years ago. The day of arrival included a dinner get-together with her fellow dorm mates and the next morning they had an opportunity to take a bus to a local Target to pick up last-minute supplies. Over the next week, there were a number of concerts, information sessions about campus clubs and athletics, and other student activities that helped keep new students informed and engaged.
This past weekend, we dropped my son off at a university in New England where he will be a freshman. When we arrived on campus, there were dozens of security guards posted along the way to guide us to the drop-off area. There were also at least a couple of hundred students on hand to help carry boxes, bags, and other containers to each incoming student's assigned dorm room. That was an unexpected and pleasant surprise for me.
My son and other students were also directed to pick up some of their course materials at one of the university halls which was also well-organized and easy to follow.
Like my daughter, my son's school also has a number of welcome activities planned over the first week, including meetings for students pursuing specific majors, a comedy show, outings to a nearby city, and additional opportunities to meet fellow students and faculty.
Research reveals that more than half of all college students experienced "overwhelming anxiety" at some point over the past year. Easing the transition to campus life is an important first step towards making a student's college experience successful.