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Orientation makes transition easier for students and parents alike

June 24, 2011
By cnp
Posted in Community Events

Clarksville, Ark. --- Going off to college can be traumatic for some people. For many incoming freshmen, it is their first time living away from home. For student and parent alike, the transition can be a difficult one.

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The theme of this year’s orientation is “No Boundaries.”

“The opportunities at Ozarks are just like the name says – boundless,” says Dean of Residential and Campus Life Sherrie Arey. “The opportunities 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 at Ozarks are completely without any boundaries. What we do here, with a combination of help from student leaders, the Student Life staff, the faculty, and even the administrators, is make sure each student is exposed to the tools they need to do what they want. Orientation tries to help students transition from high school to college.”

According to Student Foundation Board (SFB) President Cassie Saorrono, the idea is to get the students (and parents) through the long four days between arrival and the beginning of classes with a series of events designed to educate and amuse.

“The first thing we do is get them into their dorms,” she says. “What the Student Foundation Board does is, we have people standing by when they arrive, and we ‘bombard’ them with help, 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 dorms, and student peer mentors who are also going to be on hand. Plus the President’s picnic is that evening. And that’s just moving day!”

On Friday, August 19, students will begin the day with orientation meetings during which they meet their Critical Inquiry (CI) professors. The Critical Inquiry course, taken by all incoming freshmen, focuses on developing and strengthening the basic skills they will need to succeed academically at the college level. There are 12 different CI classes in the fall.

Visiting parents’ concerns will be taken care of as well. Orientation will offer a panel for parents, with the President, faculty and staff on hand to explain the different resources available for students at Ozarks, including the Academic Center for Excellence and Student Support Services. 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 matriculation ceremony in Munger Chapel and the matriculation dinner on Friday – matriculation being the formal welcoming of new students to the university – students will be able to enjoy a performance by the noted mentalist Banachek.

On Saturday, while CI students meet in small group sessions, parents will get to enjoy “University 101 for Parents,” a series of humorous skits designed to show the typical foibles of new students and how Ozarks helps them succeed.

“We want parents to understand that if something should go wrong, we are there for their children,” said Megan Fincannon. Fincannon, who graduated from Ozarks in May, will be a dormitory hall director in the fall. She has been helping Student Life organize for orientation all summer. “The goal is to learn and to have fun,” 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 visit three different presentations at this time.

Dean Arey put it best when she said, “Ozarks broadens the horizons of possibilities 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.”

During the “Class Activity and Picnic” event Saturday afternoon, members of the Ozarks Outdoors organizations will welcome new students to the many activities associated with Ozarks Outdoors, which focuses on the outdoor and environmental experiences available at the U of O. Their mission is to enrich the campus and community experience through above-standard outdoor recreational and environmental programming. Three campus organizations in particular – Ozarks Outbackers, Planet Club, and Ozarks Shooting Sports Club – offer memorable outdoor and environmental experiences.

“We are really trying to connect to our surroundings here at Ozarks and take full advantage of our proximity to some of the most beautiful places in Arkansas,” said Dean Arey. “So this year for Orientation, we are teaming up with Ozarks Outdoors for a giant freshman class activity that is going to combine the outdoors, fun, and education. Our ‘No Boundaries’ theme represents the fact that our backyard is the Ozark Mountains. Ozarks is nestled right at the foothills of the beautiful Ozark Mountains and offers boundless opportunities to use the outdoors as a living classroom.”

A comedian will perform live Saturday night.

Following Sunday church services, a series of humorous skits on college life will be performed for the students; after dinner and the orientation closing ceremony, students may take advantage of 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 Cassie Saorrono. “For students who know their majors, there’s also a chance on Monday to visit with individual professors about their fields.” She added students without declared majors could also take advantage of these meetings.

In short, Ozarks’ “No Boundaries” orientation will help students and parents alike to make the leap from high school grads to college freshmen, as well as making sure they all understand all the dimensions of college life, from Academics to … well, there isn’t anything listed under “Z.” Zuccess. From Academics to Zuccess.

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The Student Foundation Board (SFB) is actively involved in new student orientation, performing skits showing some of the pitfalls of college life.