Orientation helps new students make a smooth transition

Members of the Class of 2012 will soon be arriving on campus and will be welcomed with a variety of activities during Fall Orientation Aug. 21-26.

“We’re really excited about our programming this year,” said Danielle Bristow, director of New Student Orientation and Parent & Family Weekend. “Students will have the opportunity to interact with faculty, tour the campus, socialize with fellow students and discover a lot of ways to get involved in campus life.”

Students chat with incoming freshmen on their first day in the South 40 last August. Freshman “move-in” is part of the annual orientation program designed to welcome all to the WUSTL community.

Once again, a highlight of orientation will be the Freshman Reading Program.

The annual program is designed to reach freshmen before they arrive on campus to help them focus on skills they will continue to cultivate throughout the year and their entire college careers. It also encourages interaction with members of the WUSTL faculty in informal discussions outside the classroom setting.

This summer, incoming students read “Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change” by Elizabeth Kolbert. The book was chosen by the Freshman Reading Program Steering Committee.

“This seemed like a great year to read a book related to the environment, especially since the University will be hosting the vice presidential debate this fall,” said Alicia Schnell, project coordinator in the office of the vice chancellor for students. “The environment is an important topic for people to be thinking and talking about, especially students, as they’re likely to be the ones leading change.”

Schnell said the members of the committee like the book because it doesn’t take a particular stand. “Rather, the author documents things she witnessed and heard as she traveled the world visiting places and people who are being impacted by changes in climate patterns,” Schnell said. “It leaves the reader wondering where we go from here, which is exactly what we’d like students to ponder.”

Schnell said the Freshman Reading Program committee does not have a particular agenda in regard to which books are chosen. “All ideas and perspectives are welcome, provided students can explain and support their viewpoints,” she said.

Aug. 25, as part of Fall Orientation 2008, students will attend small discussions led by nearly 70 faculty members. Students were encouraged to participate in online discussions about the book before arriving on campus.

Freshmen also will encounter themes from “Field Notes From a Catastrophe” during the semester in classes, discussions and on-campus programming and exhibits. The programs are further explorations of the issues raised in the book.

For more information on the program and to view a video about it, go to frp.wustl.edu.

Fall Orientation officially kicks off Aug. 21 with “move-in” and residence hall floor meetings. Convocation, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton’s annual welcome to all new students and parents, takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the Athletic Complex.

An array of departmental open houses is scheduled for Aug. 22. The open houses give students an opportunity to meet with representatives from the faculty and staff to learn more about the departments. Various placement exams, financial aid meetings and campus ministry dinners also will take place.

The football team’s Red/Green scrimmage and tailgate party will be held at 4:30 p.m. at Francis Field.

The day’s closing event is the Club 40 Dance at 10 p.m. in the South 40 Clock Tower Plaza.

Aug. 23 will feature placement exams, deans meetings and residence hall floor meetings.

Highlighting the evening will be “Choices 101 — An Introduction to the First Year Experience,” presented by upper-class students. A discussion will follow. The presentation will be at 8 p.m. in Edison Theatre.

At 10 p.m., students can experience “SUP All Night” and be one of the first to explore the new Danforth University Center. There will be snacks, music, games and more.

Aug. 24 consists of a full schedule of adviser meetings for all incoming students. At 8 p.m., students can attend “The Date,” an interactive theatrical presentation that examines the issues of sexual assault and alcohol on college campuses. A discussion will follow.

For more information and a complete schedule, go to orientation.wustl.edu.