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Orientation helps students begin to unmask their inner potential

May 31, 2012
By cnp
Posted in Community Events

Clarksville, Ark. - Going off to college can be overwhelming at first. For many incoming freshmen, it is their first time living away from home or their first time living with a roommate. For student and parent alike, the transition can sometimes be a difficult one.

But thanks to the events planned by the Student Life Office for New Student Orientation, hopefully this year’s new class of students will find the transition a bit easier, and see how welcome and exciting the world of college can be.

The theme of this year’s New Student Orientation is "Ozarks POW! Unmask Your Potential." The superhero-based theme centers around unmasking the super student inside.

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Dean of Residential and Campus Life Sherrie Arey said the orientation activities are just one way Ozarks helps students transition from high school to college."Students at Ozarks have exactly what the name says - potential," she said. "In order to help each student unmask that potential, Ozarks provides the opportunity to get involved, to grow into an adult, to meet people, to learn, to succeed, to have the career you want, to develop new hobbies, to improve yourself as a person, and to have fun! Student Life Staff, faculty, and even the administrators team up to make this possible."

"The first thing we do is get them into their residence hall rooms," said Student Foundation Board (SFB) President Tom Riddle. "The Student Foundation Board has people standing by when they arrive, and we flock to the incoming cars, taking their stuff and putting it in their rooms. We move it all in for them so they don’t have to move anything. There are 65 members of SFB, plus the resident assistants in both King and Smith halls, and student peer mentors who are all on hand to help new students set up their room and get settled for a fun and full orientation weekend. We kick off the weekend with the President’s Picnic, hosted by University President Dr. Rick and First Lady Sherée on the evening of Thursday, August 16."

On Friday, August 17, students will begin the day with an exciting welcome by SFB members during the official Orientation Opening. They will then move on to small group sessions with their Critical Inquiry (CI) classes. The CI course, taken by all incoming freshmen, focuses on developing the basic skills students will need to succeed academically at the college level. Each CI class has a few Peer Mentors, who are there to mentor and guide new freshmen during their first semester at Ozarks. 

While the students are with their CI class, parents will attend a panel discussion with the University President, faculty, and staff on hand to explain the different resources available for students at Ozarks. These resources include the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) and Student Support Services (SSS). Parents are encouraged to ask any questions they wish during this time. Parents will also have the opportunity to meet with CI instructors.

Following the Friday evening matriculation ceremony - which is a formal welcome to the University of the Ozarks - and the matriculation dinner, students will be able to enjoy a performance by the noted mentalist Banachek.

On Saturday, while CI students meet in small group sessions, parents are invited to attend "University 101 for Parents," a series of humorous skits designed to show the typical foibles of new students and how Ozarks can help them over the rough spots. "We want to make parents feel absolutely comfortable with their son or daughter being here at Ozarks," said SFB Vice President of Student Life Abby Kern, a junior at Ozarks. "We want it to be exciting and fun for everyone, parents and students alike," she said.

Special interest sessions on Saturday will allow students to explore the many worlds of extracurricular student life - intramural activities, campus religious organizations, media productions including student radio, and others - in short, all the different student activities and clubs open to them. Students can attend three different presentations at this time.

During the "Class Activity and Picnic" event Saturday afternoon, Student Leaders will welcome new students with a fun team-building activity. The activity is is designed to get the students outside and show them some of the skills they need for college while having a great time. SFB members and CI Peer Mentors will be assisting with the activity. "These team building activities are meant for fun team building and to challenge each student," said Arey. "Like the superheroes of our childhood, students will face an array of challenges throughout life. Students will have the opportunity to learn skills necessary to overcome their own villains and triumph over their adversaries. And since at Ozarks no one has to fight alone, students will get the chance to work as a team throughout the day. Plus they have a whole lot of fun."

An Ozarks orientation favorite, hypnotist C.J. Johnson, will perform live Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the Walton Arts Center.

Following Sunday church services, some returning Ozarks students will perform a series of humorous skits on college life. Following dinner and the orientation closing ceremony, students are invited to attend a free movie night at Clarksville Cinema.

Monday is the final day of orientation. "We will show them how the campus computer system works, and how to use Moodle, the program the university uses for homework," says Riddle. "For students who know their major, there’s also a chance on Monday to visit with individual professors about their fields." He added that students without declared majors could also take advantage of these meetings.

Arey put it best when she said, "Ozarks broadens the opportunity for potential for students. Students are exposed to classes [and groups] in a variety of disciplines, and as a result, end up finding interests in subjects they never imagined before.  Because of the added benefit of our international program, students get to meet people from all around the world, and more than that, they actually get to learn a little bit about their cultures."

For more information on Ozarks POW! Unmask Your Potential (including the full schedule of events and an online registration form) see the Orientation section on our website at