by Amy Vaerewyck | University Communications
At CU Denver, you might not even recognize a first-time freshman when you see one. That’s because, from day one, they’re already part of the diverse campus community—thanks, in large part, to New Student Orientation
“On the first day of classes, students are ready to learn,” said Sam Kim, director of New Student Orientation. “They shouldn’t be worried about financial aid, getting into a course they wanted or locating a campus resource office.”
Through Orientation, they’ve done all of that months before—and they’ve probably made a whole bunch of friends already, too. For the roughly 150 students who attend each Orientation session, other perks include free breakfast, lunch, student planner and a Milo the CU Denver Lynx
“Students leave Orientation very happy,” Kim said. “Most importantly, first-time freshmen leave with a course schedule.”
An Official Welcome
Being the new kid at school can be tough, but CU Denver Orientation takes some of the pain out of the experience. For each of the 10-15 sessions throughout the year, approximately 70 students, faculty and staff members pitch in to give new students this official welcome.
“It’s interactive from the get-go,” Kim said.
Part of the welcome comes directly from other students during the peer-to-peer interactions that take place when new students pair up with Peer Advocate Leaders
(PALs). New students can ask all their questions—from where to find the registrar’s office to where to find the best burger in LoDo. New students and PALs often exchange contact info or connect on Facebook after Orientation.
And Kim hopes this very first CU Denver experience will start students immediately on the path to a successful college experience. Though it may sound surprising coming from an Orientation director, Kim’s overarching goals align with every faculty and staff member at CU Denver.
“We’re here to graduate students,” he said.
Many college orientations span two days, requiring an overnight stay, but CU Denver Orientation gives students everything they need in a single day.
“Most of our students work or have other obligations,” Kim said, “so we try our best to tailor the event to accommodate their schedules.”
At Orientation, students:
- Work closely with friendly academic advisors,
- Register for courses right then and there,
- Learn about campus resources, like tutoring and counseling,
- Meet fellow students, as well as faculty and staff members, and
- Shake hands with Milo the Lynx and take a Polaroid with his life-size cut-out.
While first-time freshmen are wise to refer to the New Student Checklist
beforehand, they can complete all the paperwork and get all their questions answered at Orientation. Parents may attend Orientation with their student and take part in specialized Parent Orientation sessions that occur concurrently with the student-focused sessions.
All of this and there’s no upfront cost to students!
wHAT STUDENTS ARE SAYING ABOUT ORIENTATION:
- The event was quick, efficient and informative.
- It answered all my questions.
- Everyone was super-friendly, helpful and welcoming.
- The one-on-one time with friendly advisors made registration easy.
- I loved the advice from other students.
- It helped me meet new people and feel more comfortable with school.
A Rule Worth Following
For the first time ever in CU Denver history, first-time freshmen students are now required to attend Orientation—and that’s a good thing.
“We want every single new freshman to meet with an advisor, register for classes and meet their CU Denver community members right at the very beginning,” Kim said. Students don’t seem to be complaining.
“At the end of the day, there’s a sigh of relief, and students say, ‘Now, I’m going to rest, and I’ll see you in August,’” Kim said of summer Orientation sessions. He remembers one family from an Orientation session in April who came away extremely satisfied.
“At the end of Orientation, the mom and dad looked at me and said they felt good about committing their student to our institution,” Kim said. “The student felt good, and they left with huge smiles on their faces.”