Summer is here and many colleges and universities are hosting new student orientations for the fall semester. Looking through the lens of the new student, their emotions are high. For some students this will be an exciting adventuresome event, for others, it will cause great anxiety. As a school, if you truly wish to create a memorable orientation, you will need to consider how to deal with all the emotions. The relationships you start to build with the students will be based on the emotional connections you create during this time and how you make them feel.
Here are a few tips:
1. Plan the orientation so you can use the student’s name and make the process as personal as possible. For a smaller institution this will be easier than for a large institution, but with advance planning large institutions can make this happen too. Personal invitations to the orientation, fun welcoming name tags, concerted effort by staff to call students by name, etc.
2. Ask Me Badges. Loved this idea that one college used to help students feel comfortable in asking all the questions they wanted answered; the orientation staff and other faculty/staff members wore big badges that said “Ask Me”. The students were told they should feel free to pose any question they might have regarding the school to these folks and they would be eager to help.
3. Smile. Ask all staff and faculty to remember they are “on-stage” as Disney would say and they should appear as happy and excited to see these new students as the students are happy and excited with their choice of where they will be spending the next few years of their life.
4. Simplify the processes of orientation to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, but doesn’t totally overwhelm the student. Remember to engage as many of their senses throughout the experience in a positive manner: sight, sound, smell and touch. Do a walk through with your own employees to process prove your system to make sure it all flows smoothly and you are communicating the right message throughout your entire physical environment.
Orientation is a BIG DEAL! It is the welcoming mat of what you hope will become the start of a student’s long-term engagement with your college.