Allegheny to introduce new first-year program

The Allegheny Bound Experience to begin in the summer months

Allegheny College is implementing a new program that will affect incoming first-year students, changing their Allegheny experience beginning in the summer months. Associate Dean Gretchen Beck gave a presentation detailing the changes to Allegheny Student Government during their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23.    

Associate Dean Gretchen Beck presents the Allegheny Bound Experience to Allegheny Student Government during its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

The new program is called the Allegheny Bound Experience, and is made up of four different sections: summer orientation, first-year course registration, move-in and welcome weekend, according to Beck.

Summer orientation will be mandatory for all incoming students and will take place over two days in the summer.

“Two-day, one-night program, designed to welcome new students to the community,” read Beck’s slideshow in part.

There are a few reasons Allegheny is implementing this summer program, according to Beck.

“One is something we always experience during the summer: summer melt. That’s that the time where students decide … to go somewhere else, another institution, take a gap year,” Beck said. “It’s also to get a jump start to giving folks a similar process and similar experience.”

Students must sign up for one of four groups, with each group containing no more than 125 people, Beck said. The groups will arrive on one of four weeks spread throughout June and July.

During the first day, students will be able to go on campus tours, attend a resource fair and speak to faculty about various services, according to Beck.

She said the rest of the day will include a dinner and then meetings explaining what it means to attend Allegheny for parents and students, respectively.

“Students stay overnight. Parents and families have the option to stay wherever in the area,” Beck said. “We’re working with hotels to get some blocked booking and some better rates for parents and families.”

Once students’ families leave for the night, students will have a few more meetings to acclimate them to college life.

“One of the things, too, is to get students used to being here at Allegheny,” Beck said. “So, they’re going to have their first floor meeting that night with their [resident assistant]. It may not be their particular RA that they’re going to have when they’re back on campus.”

On the second day, students will have pictures taken for their AllCards. If students lose their student identifications over the summer months, they will receive a second one for free, according to Beck. Students will only be held accountable for their AllCards once they move onto campus.

One event that may eventually be included on the second day is student registration, according to Beck.

“There will be an advising piece,” Beck said. “The Learning Commons is working on that section. There will be conversations with parents and students and family members, and students will go off in groups to meet with faculty. … The parents will also go on a separate track to talk about what their students can expect.”

Part of that is to give everybody that same move-in experience.

— Gretchen Beck, Associate Dean

Beck said holding student registration when students are at Allegheny may fix the confusion and uncertainty students experience when choosing classes over the phone. Class of 2018 President Kierra Price expressed confusion on how registration groups would function if students were able to pick the weekend they arrived at school to register.

“When I came as a freshman, you still have your registration groups,” Price said. “Would kids coming in on June 4 have an advantage registering?”

Beck said these students will still have their registration groups. Furthermore, groups will function in a way that will keep students who attend summer orientation before others from holding an advantage, according to Beck.

While the summer orientation will be mandatory for students, parents and families are not required to come. Class of 2020 Senator Trevor Day voiced his concern over the summer requirement.

“So far, I like the idea,” Day said. “My only real [problem] with it is the mandatory aspect. I think it would be hard for families to cut time out of work, even students finding time.”

Class of 2020 Vice President Carlos Sanchez agreed with Day’s concerns about the mandatory aspect of the program. Sanchez’s doubt about the program stemmed from the cost, he said.

“What about students who live, for example, in California, who probably can’t afford this? Is there help for the students?” Sanchez said. “I don’t think it’s worth it for a student to pay … to come here for two days.”

Despite the requirement for students, the administration is aware of both the time commitment and high travel cost, according to Beck. She and Associate Dean and Director of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Social Justice Center justin adkins have been looking at resources together to find various ways to ease the cost of travel for students and their families, Beck said.

“If you’re telling me, as a student, that you can’t be there for those particular dates, and there’s a financial aspect to that, then the conversation might be that we have a couple of dates in August and we expect to see you there,” Beck said. “Those dates would be right before move-in, which students will be coming for anyway.”

Move-in will be consolidated into three days, according to Beck. The entire football team will be moving in first in August. The second group to move in will be the early arrival group, which includes all other fall sports players and international education students.

“Part of that is to give everybody that same move-in experience,” Beck said. “If you came early for one of those programs [last year], you probably didn’t have an RA, a majority of the decorations or a good sense of where things were.”

This coming fall, students moving in on those two early move-in dates will have similar resources that will be available to the rest of the students who move in later that month, according to Beck.

Welcome weekend will have the same schedule as the orientation weekend previous classes of students experienced, Beck said.

“The welcome weekend program is very similar to the last couple of years,” Beck said. “If you look at that particular program, we have tweaked it so that we have allowed those programs like campus resources … to back up against each other instead of having longer spaces.”

Beck explained the Allegheny Bound Experience is meant to prepare students for college life and give them a glimpse of what it means to attend Allegheny.