Rolling out the welcome mat for orientation

Beginning today and continuing through July 1, staff and faculty across campus will welcome an anticipated 5,800 would-be freshmen to campus for a two-day orientation experience. Staff in New Student Programs added two orientation sessions this year to accommodate the additional students, roughly a 10 percent jump over last year's orientation participants.

Program director Liz Kurt said her staff prefers to cap participation at 300 families or fewer for each session in order to provide the best possible experience – thus the additional sessions. "We think that's our threshold for giving families quality customer service," she said.

Students attending orientation have accepted an admissions offer to attend Iowa State and paid a matriculation fee, but that may not mean it's a done deal. Kurt said there's no method for capturing exact data, but "we know some of them arrive still shopping." She said the little things all employees can do for campus visitors – open a door, be welcoming, offer directions, answer questions – are more important than ever.

Orientation students will be identifiable by their red cinch bags.

What they'll get done

While they're here for orientation, students meet their academic advisers and register for fall classes, get their ISUCards and email accounts, and learn more about their home college. They'll be introduced to academic support services and social resources available to them.

There are opportunities to meet with a financial aid adviser and join a tour of campus, the library, residence halls or Greek housing network. They'll hear the fight song, discover how a learning community can help them be successful and find strategic locations for a cup of morning joe.

Students attending orientation will check in at the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center on the east side of campus. Those overnighting on campus will be assigned rooms in Maple Hall. The Union Drive Community Center is the site for guests' evening meal and the Memorial Union is the hub for evening programs. During the day, college and student service buildings will be used for workshops, large group presentations and other activities.

Orientation sessions for transfer students arriving this fall are scheduled for May 29 and July 1.