The 2015-2016 academic year marks Drexel University’s shift from nine summer freshman orientations to “Welcome Week,” a single week-long fall orientation. The event is scheduled to begin on Sept. 12, the only scheduled move-in day for incoming freshmen and transfer students, and will conclude one day before classes begin on Sept. 20.
Welcome Week is an effort by Drexel administration to improve incoming students’ experiences at college, provide them with necessary information about the campus and encourage mingling and bonding within the freshmen class.
Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life, Subir Sahu, explained the thought process behind the switchover from a summer orientation.
“You’re really cramming in a lot into these day and a half to two day sessions. So through the summer orientation program, we were losing the ability to really celebrate the incoming class as a whole and we were also losing the opportunity to engage students beyond just information sharing,” Sahu explained.
“You’re bringing a few students and their families, a few hundred at a time. So you lose the ability to really bring the entire class in, as a whole, and celebrate them and what they bring to the campus and the fact that they’re new members of the Drexel family and the Drexel community.” he continued.
The University’s employment of a new admissions strategy to attract “right fit” Drexel students paved the way for the reconstruction of freshman orientation. After attracting students well-researched on Drexel’s unique quarter system and co-op facets, administrators have said that the next step is creating a campus community where they can thrive.
Sahu agreed that the focus on developing the student community was the drive behind the university’s reorganization of orientation.
“We certainly looked at what other institutions do in order to see what we can pick and choose [for our program] and figure out what we can model here that’s worked in other institutions.” But I would say the driving force behind going towards a fall orientation and a welcome week was more about our student body, versus what other institutions do,” Sahu said.
As far as the changes to the move-in process, the University hopes to better facilitate students the initial entrance to the dorms. This includes Drexel’s integration of the University and Student Services [USS], and its crew’s move-in process.
“We’ve changed the move-in process so it’s a lot easier for students. You know, we’re going to move the boxes into the halls and so it’s really a day where they can come and be with their families, be with the community, celebrate and then that night is really the kick-off to the student portion of Welcome Week,” Sahu said.
Sahu went on to admit Welcome Week has been an ambitious undertaking.
“There’s a certain element of controlled chaos. I mean, you’re bringing in thousands of students to the campus in one day and that’s why we want to do it right. Move-In Day and Welcome Week, as a whole, has been a major planning process across all the units on campus,” he said.
Sahu also revealed the origin of the changes to orientation as a symptom of broader changes being made Drexel’s entire admissions department.
“We’ve looked at our whole admissions process and we’re trying to bring in the right type of student, who wants to be here, who understands Drexel, who is going to be successful here and move towards graduation. And so, I think in the context of those shifts, this seemed like a good shift going forward, and I think there’s a lot of belief in the spirit of moving to a fall orientation,” Sahu said.
After move-in day, on Sept. 13, freshmen are scheduled to have a kick-off event where faculty, alumni and staff will welcome them to campus.
“We’re going to highlight students and alumni and help new students understand how to be prepared for the first day of class, the first week of school, the year,” Deike maintained.
The week is expected to be full of interaction between the freshman class current Drexel students, faculty and professional staff. The University as well as student clubs and organizations will be hosting events throughout the week for freshmen to attend.
Freshmen can also join returning students in “Welcome Back Week,” starting Sept. 21. Learn more about individual events by visiting http://drexel.edu/studentlife/get_involved/programs_events/welcome_back/