Our Warmest Welcome Ever
The midway point of the academic year might seem like an unusual time to be excited about the first impressions of newcomers who arrived at SUNY Oneonta back in September. However, last summer we made sweeping changes to the way our campus greets incoming students. Now after gathering their feedback on our new orientation format, the result is clear: the Class of 2020 reports feeling academically engaged, productive and comfortable here.
Over 80% of respondents to a post-orientation survey strongly agreed or agreed that the “Majors Meeting” was helpful in meeting faculty and learning about a major and/or minor associated with a department.
Students also responded favorably to the session about general education and applied learning. Roughly two out of three agreed or strongly agreed that the session helped them view general education courses as opportunities to broaden their knowledge and develop themselves, and that it left them interested in applied/experiential learning opportunities.
According to a second survey conducted six weeks into the fall semester, over 80% of new students strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “I feel like I belong.” Just over 10% were not sure, while 10% strongly disagreed or disagreed.
The new class scheduling sequence was an important corollary to our revamped orientation. The block, pre-set schedules that the Division of Academic Affairs developed in the spring and shared with incoming students over the summer were well received. Roughly two out of three students surveyed reported being very pleased or pleased with the level of interaction and ability to work with their summer advisors via email or phone. Fully 94% strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “The courses that I am taking this semester will help me advance toward completing my degree.”
Reimagining orientation took an effort that stretched across campus and challenged conventional wisdom. I extend my appreciation to all who participated in this undertaking, especially Director of New Student Services Monica Grau. She spearheaded our planning, then kept the schedule moving throughout orientation, and afterwards compiled and reported the student perceptions that I’ve shared here.
Under Monica’s leadership, the programming we developed has given new students a better introduction to SUNY Oneonta. As a result, they are happier, more connected to their faculty, and moving in the right direction academically.