Summer orientation: A 'sneak peek' for new students
Dal hosts its summertime orientation
Rebecca Schneidereit - August 9, 2012
Last month, Dalhousie held a new, pilot summer orientation – a chance for this fall’s incoming students to get a sneak peek at the university’s ins and outs, and more than 100 eager Dal newbies registered for the one-day crash course on Dalhousie culture.
First-years—and their entourages of parents and family members—started the day with an 8 a.m. sign-in and didn’t finish until 4:30’s optional campus tour. Their packed schedule included sessions on the writing centre, residences and off-campus accommodations, and personal finance, as well as an optional Dalplex tour and a Q&A with current students.
Karla Gouthro, coordinator of Dalhousie’s First Year Transition Programs, helped Dal’s peer advisors organize the orientation. She says that although this year’s orientation was essentially a pilot, it was a resounding success, and she anticipates the summer orientation becoming an annual event.
Brenna Dixon, a peer advisor and Orientation planner, agrees. “The feedback that I received from students and parents was all very positive. I got the impression from the participants that they would encourage the program to continue,” says Ms. Dixon.
During lunch hour at the orientation, students lined up to grab a bite off the buffet before scoping out the resource fair where various university services —including the Career Services Centre, Black Student Advising Centre, and Multifaith Centre—set up booths to greet curious visitors. ”We’re just here getting the word out,” Laura MacIntosh, representing Dal Allies, explains cheerfully, “We’re about providing a safe, welcoming space for all students.”
Helping new students feel welcome
A large crew of other university personnel made cameos throughout the day, from Vice-President Academic Carolyn Watters (who delivered the morning’s welcome speech) to representatives from Dal’s various faculties. Susan Youden, an academic advisor from the School of Nursing, dropped in to chat with new students during the lunch hour’s resource fair. “It’s important that students get to know their academic advisor,” she explains. “[Starting university] is an adjustment, especially if you’re coming from away.”
“Away,” of course, is relative: a place like Windsor, N.S. might seem close to Halifax to a mid-career professional, but it can seem farther for students just emerging from their hometown high school. Morgan Anthony hails from there: he’s coming to Dalhousie this fall to study the double bass, and looks forward to Dal providing “the opportunity to be on my own a little bit. Be a little more independent.” His mother, Annetta Anthony, found the summer orientation reassuring: “For me, it was the parent lecture… it helped ease some concerns,” she says. “[The session] clarified that a lot of parents are in the same boat.”
Jocelyn Brison, from Hants County, will also be starting her first year at Dalhousie this fall, studying commerce (she plans to play hockey on the side). She appreciated the orientation’s practical focus on campus security. “It’s just stuff that you don’t really think about.”
Dalhousie’s ubiquitous Tiger mascot was also in attendance at the resource fair, waving, mugging for the cameras (see above), and generally raising the eyebrow of many an incoming student. After September, of course, new students won’t bat an eye at the black-and-orange critter: he’s just one of the many quirks of the Dal lifestyle that’ll become second nature.