Photo courtesy of Xavier University
The Office of Student Involvement (OSI) is coordinating a pilot summer orientation program for incoming first-year students this June.
The academic orientation program will focus on class registration and orientation to the campus, allowing incoming students to meet with academic advisers and become familiar with campus resources.
The program will only be available for up to 400 local incoming first-years and student athletes and their parents or guardians for two separate two-day overnight sessions this year.
If effective, the option to attend summer orientation may eventually be extended to all incoming first-years in the future.
Provost Dr. Melissa Baumann called for a pilot summer orientation program to combat “melting” in the community of college admissions. Melting occurs when first-year students commit to a university but do not end up attending.
Besides reducing melting, the goal of the summer orientation program is to deliver the Xavier “brand” of a highly personalized student experience as well as to enhance students’ transitions to Xavier.
A variety of departments including Student Affairs, Enrollment Management, Student Success and Marketing and Communications have been involved since planning began in October 2017.
Xavier used to have a summer orientation program called Priority Registration Experience Program (PREP), where students registered for their fall semester classes in person. PREP became less feasible and was terminated after 2012 as Xavier expanded to recruit students from outside the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana tri-state area.
In recent years, Road to Xavier has been used as an exclusively online approach to transitioning students to college. While Road to Xavier is convenient to access online, it has not measured up to the goal of personalized attention for each student.
Senior Director of Student Affairs Leah Busam Klenowksi shared a critique she’s heard from students and parents.
“When they did advising and registration from a distance at their computers at home, they felt like that didn’t match (Xavier’s brand),
Busam Klenowski said. “That’s part of what we hope to help people with in the in-person program.”
The summer orientation program has been designed as a middle ground between X-Day programs for prospective students in the spring prior to the student’s acceptance and Manresa for committed first-year students before classes start in August.
Besides keeping incoming first-years excited in between X-Day and Manresa, the Summer Orientation aims to blend the two approaches of each program.
While X-Day provides a lot of information to students alongside their guardians, Manresa is experienced through small groups led by current Xavier students and is designed to acclimate incoming students to the Xavier community without a guardian or parent in sight.
The program will have a mix of experiences where students and parents are together and others that incoming first-years will be with Manresa-esque small groups led by current Xavier students.
The summer orientation will not be free, but the inter-departmental team is trying to keep costs as low as possible. The cost is projected to be $50-$75 to cover meals, linens and lodging provided exclusively for students in the residence halls and the space in Cintas.
The summer orientation program is not designed to be a profitable endeavor for the university. The planning team acknowledges that families planning to attend will face other charges such as taking time off work, hotel rooms for accompanying guardians and paying for gas to travel to campus.
Road to Xavier will be maintained for students who choose not to or are unable to attend. Busam Klenowski stresses that summer orientation is “…an extra orientation piece. Manresa will continue as is.”
Busam Klenowski emphasized that the nature of the Summer Orientation as a pilot program will help determine the balance between sharing relevant information for the students who attend and still provide the same information on Road to Xavier without sharing topics with Manresa.
Current Xavier students were able to apply as paid summer orientation leaders through the One App earlier this semester and will be interviewing for positions in the coming weeks.
By: Heather Gast ~Staff Writer~