Harrisburg – Face it. Summer’s almost over.
You can sense it on college campuses, which are getting ready to welcome back students for the start of another new academic year.
For the most part, freshmen will be the first to arrive on campus en masse during “move-in” days, which are scheduled this week at all 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities. Classes start Aug. 25.
There will be plenty of faculty, staff and returning upper classman on hand to greet the new students and their parents. And they’ll help with some of the heavy lifting too.
It’s all part of a concerted effort to help make that sometimes difficult transition to college life go just a little bit easier for the incoming class.
“More than 800 upper class students, faculty, staff and community leaders will join us in welcoming some 1,000 new students and their parents to campus by helping them move into our residence halls before the start of fall semester classes,” said John Bonando, assistant vice president for student services and co-chair of the Weekend of Welcome (WOW) program at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.
During move-in day at SRU, the helping hands actually will form a “bucket brigade” to deliver suitcases, trunks and boxes of students’ belongings from their cars to their rooms in the residence halls.
“It’s fun to watch,” Bonando said. “The welcoming nature of our current students is infectious, and parents, many who are leaving their child for the first time, are impressed.”
The scene will be repeated across the state, starting today and continuing through the weekend.
Administrators will pitch in too – and not just from the universities themselves. State System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan and a small team from the Office of the Chancellor in Harrisburg will travel to Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania Thursday morning to help students there move in for the first time.
“This is a big day for students and their families—one that is usually equal parts excitement and anxiety,” Mr. Brogan said. “So, we just want to do whatever we can to help make it go a little easier for the new student, and for mom and dad.”
Helping students move in is just part of the transition process. Most of the universities already have held orientation programs for both freshman and transfer students, beginning back in the spring and continuing throughout the summer. Others will include several days of special programming this week. Some of the special programming will run through the entire academic year.
The goal of the programs is to help familiarize students with the campus and all college life has to offer – both academically and socially – so they get off to a good start.
“We know that college students are successful when they have formed strong and supportive connections, not only with their peers, but also with their faculty,” said Rhonda H. Luckey, vice president for student affairs at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “Building relationships and becoming actively engaged in campus life create a sense of belonging.”
IUP hosts a variety of activities for first-year students during Welcome Weekend, concluding Sunday afternoon with a campus-wide convocation featuring both student and faculty speakers and a picnic in the Oak Grove.
“It’s an important beginning for our first-year students,” Luckey said. “Throughout the weekend we offer opportunities for our students to become acquainted, to learn how to navigate the campus, and to discover the rich resources IUP has available to foster their success.”
All of the State System campuses have special activities planned for their new students.
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania will offer three days of programming between move-in day and the first day of classes, covering topics including healthy decision making, conflict management, time management, budgeting, dealing with homesickness and living in a new environment.
California University of Pennsylvania’s orientation program will offer a student-focused experience that will introduce freshmen and transfer students to the services and programs available at the university. Students trained as orientation leaders, as well as campus staff, will lead sessions designed to foster interaction among students and smooth the transition to campus life. The three-day orientation will conclude Sunday with a student convocation and core values candlelight ceremony, followed by fireworks.
New Cheyney University of Pennsylvania students will participate in Wolf Orientation, three days of special activities that will begin the day after move-in day, and include introductory sessions on the university’s learning communities, student activities and campus involvement and will conclude with a block party.
Clarion University of Pennsylvania’s Discovery Weekend will include a welcoming picnic for students and their families and a variety of sessions on topics including responsibility and accountability; academic and career essentials; violence prevention and personal safety; and diversity and civility. The weekend will conclude with a convocation and reception Sunday evening.
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania’s Discovery Weekend will include the Stony Acres Adventure experience, 3½ days of physical, emotional, social and experiential activities. The weekend will conclude with an academic convocation and picnic on the Shawnee Quad for all students.
Welcome Weekend begins Thursday at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with move-in, a picnic and an outdoor movie. Other events include Playfair activities night, a class photo in Sox Harrison Stadium and “Club Rush,” which will be held Sunday as a way to introduce new students to the many campus organizations they might wish to join. Edinboro also will offer an extensive First-Year Experience program that will include a variety of academic programming and support services throughout the year. It will combine seminar courses, first-year advising opportunities and a Common Hour to assist students in becoming oriented to the classroom, campus and Edinboro community. The university this year is offering 22 FYE courses, a combination of special-topic courses and general education courses with special content and focus.
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania’s Connections orientation program is a comprehensive overview of the university experience, and includes special programming for both students and parents.
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania freshman will participate in a seminar in which they will read and discuss the Jon Krakauer novel Into the Wild. A variety of themed activities will be held throughout the year. The first-year-experience program at LHU also will include a required orientation program as well as a common set of learning outcomes, appropriate class schedule, and an early warning system to identify students who would benefit from additional assistance.
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania will host a residence hall welcome and block party for students on move-in day. Students also will attend academic department meetings and will have the opportunity to attend a variety of entertainment events, ranging from a ventriloquist and comedian to outdoor movies. A community service event, club and organization fair also will be held. The university also offers a series of first-year seminars for new students.
Millersville University of Pennsylvania will hold its orientation program for freshmen and transfer students beginning Thursday. The program will include a variety of informational meetings as well as entertainment and social events, including a convocation and candle lighting ceremony around the campus pond Saturday evening.
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania will include among its welcoming events an opening convocation ceremony and Student Involvement and Services Fair, which will allow students the opportunity to speak with representatives from student groups on campus, as well as from community organizations. It is an opportunity for students to learn about volunteering, club sports, leadership opportunities and employment possibilities. An important part of the orientation process is Academic Day and its related service-learning projects. Academic Day and other Fall Welcome Week programs are designed to help students connect and stay connected with the university and local community. Service learning projects have included clean-up of a local stream, working with the annual Shippensburg Corn Festival and a lemonade social at a local senior citizen center.
West Chester University of Pennsylvania’s orientation weekend will include a president’s welcome and picnic as well as a variety of special programs on student involvement and discussions on alcohol and other drugs and consent and sexual misconduct education. A series of programs, events, open houses, educational information and BBQ’s will be held during the first week of classes to help students become engaged in the campus community. Students also will have the opportunity each month to attend a 30-minute session on topics such as how to schedule for the spring semester, tips for writing a term paper, and how to take better notes as part of the New Student Success Series.
For more information on special programs and services the universities provide for new students, go to the links listed below:
Follow along on our Storify as thousands of students begin their journey into college life. #PASSHE