Numbers are strong for new student orientation

Despite delays nationally this spring in the college financial aid cycle, students are committing to Iowa State and making plans to attend. Nearly 5,000 fall first-year students will visit campus for new student orientation starting later this month to begin their transition to college life. Another 900 will complete the virtual orientation program. Those numbers are similar to a year ago, said new student programs director Sarah Merrill.

Students who come to orientation have accepted their admissions offer to Iowa State, though not all have made their final college decision.

Merrill's team will coordinate 18 1.5-day sessions for first year students and their family members from May 30 through June 28; two of those will begin on Sundays, June 9 and 23. One-day orientations on May 29 and July 1 for transfer students kick off and wrap up orientation for fall-arriving students. About half of the 800 transfer students so far who'll participate in orientation chose to come to campus to complete it.

College presentations

3-5 p.m. on Day 1

  • Agriculture and Life Sciences, 0127 Curtiss
  • Business, 1148 Gerdin
  • Design, 0101 Design
  • Engineering, 2055 Hoover
  • Human Sciences, 1210 LeBaron
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1001 Troxel

They'll get their I.D. cards, learn how their U bill works, explore during campus or facility tours, discover more about their college and their degree program, register for fall classes and learn lots about services available to help them be successful Cyclones. There is time to learn about panhellenic or music ensemble options, visit with a financial aid officer, browse the resource fair or consult with a staff member about accommodations for disabilities. The full schedule of options is online.

"There is no way we could accomplish all this without the hundreds of people on campus coming together to support orientation. We're so grateful for the effort that comes from so many faculty and staff to make orientation possible," Merrill said.

Getting used to the idea of college

Students are a bit late this spring to make their college decisions -- and that makes sense, Merrill said.

"A good understanding of their financial aid really impacts their decision about what college or university to attend -- or their ability to attend at all," she said.

"We're finding that students are choosing Iowa State; there's just been less time for them to prepare for orientation because this all is happening in May -- instead of March or April."

For example, more than 300 first-year students registered for orientation last week, which would be atypical for mid-May any other year.

"Because of those delays in the financial aid awards, students have had less time to really assess their college decision and become confident in that decision," Merrilll said.

"It's going to be as important as ever this summer that students really feel we've rolled out that cardinal carpet to make them feel at home and that we're prepared to support them when they get here in August."

What's new at orientation?

Orientation T-shirt 

The Innovate 1858 store in the Student Innovation Center is selling a "Cyclone Power" shirt designed for students by students. Buy it at the store or online; proceeds support the store and Cyclone Aides program.

It all happens in Workday. As returning students did in April, first-year students will register for their fall classes in Workday. And like their peers, they'll need to first complete a half dozen onboarding tasks in Workday. The orientation team has encouraged students to complete the Workday onboarding prior to visiting campus because it's easier to do on a laptop than a smart phone. Even so, there will be computer stations in Carver Hall near several orientation sessions if students need to complete their onboarding.

New program for first-gens. Among the Day 2 programs is a new session, First Scholars Program, for first-generation students and Pell Grant-eligible students and family members. It's an overview of the services and support available in the new Center for Student Educational Success in the dean of students office, an initiative supported this year with 2022-31 strategic plan funding.

More diners on Union Drive. Orientation students who elect to stay overnight on campus are assigned to Maple Hall, but the adjacent Seasons Marketplace dining center is closing for two months for kitchen renovations. The Marketplace at the Union Drive Community Center will be an option for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Memorial Union food court and venues in the Hub also will serve lunch.