A new-look orientation for first-year students

When future first-year USF students come to orientation in the summer of 2018, they'll be exposed to a far different experience from years past.

Opposed to long hours spent in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom listening to speaker after speaker, students will now be led to different classrooms around campus to have more engaging meetings with their orientation leaders (OL).

Some would-be powerpoint presentations will be now be replaced with mini-competitions among the individual orientation teams. Attendees will also be able to access an orientation guide and schedule through USF Orientation’s brand-new application, USF #myOrientation Guide, which is available on Google Play and the App Store.

“We’ve done a complete overhaul of what the (orientations’) content is,” Marnie Hauser, Director of Orientation, said. “We’re trying to reduce the firehose effect of information on new students.”

Hauser said that orientation in 2018 will feature a higher emphasis on preparing future students for their first day of classes at USF, opposed to attempting to prepare them for all four years at once.

“We’re looking more at what they (future students) need to know now,” she said.

Hauser said that all orientation sessions will still start and finish in the MSC in 2018. The sessions in-between, however, will be held individually in different locations around campus, with OL’s leading them. The purpose of this is to not only engage students more as they are hearing directly from another student in a small group, but to also help the future students familiarize themselves with campus.

In an additional effort to make orientation more personal for first-time students, USF Orientation will increase the number of first-year student sessions in 2018 to 13, despite the same number of first-year students, 4200, estimated to go through orientation. To pair with the smaller sessions, Orientation also added a higher number of OL’s for 2018, while also increasing their pay from a one-time stipend to $10 an hour.

“Orientation has changed a lot from last year,” Janel Ramos, a second-year OL, said. “It’s under a completely new system. It’s all about interaction between OL’s and students, with team competitions and students being involved in discussion.”

After serving as a student OL last year, Ramos is now a Family and Guest OL in 2018. She said that last year, she would have 10-12 students in her first-time student orientation group. In 2018, OL’s leading students now have eight-10.

She also said that the believes the increased interaction between new students and OL’s will make orientation easier and more productive for OL’s as well.

“All of the changes aren’t just for student success, but for orientation leader success as well,” Ramos said. “Everybody knows how long orientation is, so to have energy and constant human interaction for us was a lot. It’s twice a week, every single week — it’s a lot of work.”

Ramos said that as an OL in 2017, she attended every first-year orientation because it was a requirement. To help keep OL’s fresh in 2018, however, they’ll be permitted to miss one two-day session, according to Ramos.

“It’s really nice,” Ramos said. “I wish I had that luxury last year, but I’m glad the OL’s this year will have it.”

Orientations for 2018 began Tuesday, exclusively for first-year students starting in the summer and will continue until August 14.