CSI Enhances the Student Orientation Experience

January 22, 2013

This past fall the College of Staten Island, under the collaborative leadership of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, welcomed 2,500 first-term students who participated in the College’s new two-day orientation program.

Following a successful 2011 pilot, the two-day orientation model led to the implementation of a comprehensive program that introduced incoming students to concepts and strategies for academic success, the transition to college, co-curricular enrichment, and being part of a multicultural community. Students’ initial academic advisement, course selection, and registration were also facilitated during the two-day program.

The program was designed and developed by the First Year Experience committee (FYE), a college-wide collaboration of over 30 offices and departments. The committee met regularly throughout the academic year to plan the two-day program with the Office of New Student Orientation playing a key role in its implementation. This collaborative and cooperative initiative required the involvement of HEO staff, faculty and support staff who were available throughout each scheduled orientation session. They helped with meeting and greeting students and facilitating workshops that focused on areas such as academic expectations and diversity.

The FYE committee worked with the Office of Institutional Research at the College to develop an evaluation instrument to assess each orientation session. The student response to the two-day program has been overwhelmingly positive; only minor adjustments were made since the initial pilot year, and the program is now in its 3rd year.

Key Programmatic Goals for Orientations
Establishing a sense of belonging and connection to the campus community; helping students navigate their initial advisement process; and developing partnerships and effective communication skills with the ultimate goal of improving student achievement, retention and graduation rates.

Day One of New Student Orientation
The program typically starts with a warm and informative welcome from Dr. William Fritz, Interim President of the College of Staten Island and Dr. A. Ramona Brown, Vice President of Student Affairs. Assistant Vice President/Dean of Students, Salvador Mena leads a discussion on Civility, while Associate Provost, Dr. Deborah Vess presents on Academic Expectations. Both sessions utilize orientation leaders in humor-infused skits to inform and engage students.

Additional workshops provide students with insights for understanding the advisement and registration process. The “Get Connected” session provides an opportunity for team building among the incoming students and also includes a student-panel about co-curricular options and involvement on campus. Students also attend two faculty-led academic workshops of their choice, giving them the opportunity to meet and talk with faculty and to explore the various requirements of a particular major and the different career paths that the majors can lead towards.

Day Two of New Student Orientation
Day two provides students with the opportunity to ask questions of representatives from various campus offices in an interactive, television talk show-like format. Additionally, students then set up their CUNY on-line accounts, attend a diversity workshop, participate in a library tour and complete the day registering for classes.

The activity-filled two days include students learning about the College Life Unit of Experience (CLUE) Program by attending workshops that introduce them to the different Co-curricular (CC) and Personal Growth (PG) out-of-classroom experiences organized and sponsored by departments across the campus during the academic year.

On the New Student Orientation Evaluation Survey, students have commented positively on how welcome they were made to feel and how much they learned and accomplished in the two days.

In the last two years, CSI’s two-day orientation program has accomplished many of its goals, including addressing students’ needs and offering support and direction towards their educational and personal goals. Most importantly, a reinforced sentiment heard often around the CSI community is “Proud to be CSI!”