Forums hosted to help improve student orientation

Caleb Wasson

Each fall, new students arriving on campus participate in Bod Blast festivities, Washburn’s new student orientation program. Under the current Bod Blast format, orientation sessions last four days and deal with issues such as student life, how to avoid the “freshman 15” and the dangers of practicing unsafe sex. However, a few changes may be made to the program next year.On Nov. 21 and Nov. 29, Washburn held campus-wide discussions to explore ways of improving new student orientation. “The main goal of these forums is to improve the way new students come to understand college success,” said Bruce Mactavish, associate dean, college of arts and sciences. “Some form of orientation has always been a part of Washburn, but this is our first year of forums.”These forums were open to all faculty and staff members to share their thoughts about the current orientation program and to offer ideas on enhancing the experience of Washburn undergraduates.”We try to improve what we are doing,” said Mactavish. “One method is to listen to what people say.”Faculty and staff who attended the forums were asked to identify things such as the qualities of a successful first-year student, components of the “ideal” orientation experience and one thing that could be done now to improve the program.”I think a great quality of a student is being able to understand how to handle the homework load,” said Ashley Swanson-Hoye, admissions counselor.Other suggestions for improvement included breaking up orientation into smaller groups, getting more faculty involved in the program and letting new students know the benefits Washburn can offer.

“I think it is important to let students know what they can do if they need assistance,” said Jorge Nobo, professor of philosophy. “Many students seem unaware of the features this university offers.”

All suggestions will first be considered by several Washburn offices, including the Admissions Department and Enrollment Management, before any proposed changes can be implemented. One aspect, however, will likely remain the same-orientation is not mandatory for all new students.

“We have a growing number of new students on campus each year and it is difficult to ensure that each one of them attends these sessions,” said Mactavish. “However, one of our main priorities is to make sure incoming students understand the benefits of participating in orientation.”