The leaves were just turning orange on the trees last fall when Assistant Director of the Learning Commons Lynn Zlotkowski began thinking about this year’s freshman orientation.
“Really, as soon as I got the feedback from last year’s orientation in October, I started thinking about improvements for this year,” said Zlotkowski.
That’s when she meets with a committee of administrators to go over feedback and plan for the coming year. It’s a process that involves virtually every department and aims to create a sense of community and comfortable surroundings for new students.
New this year were breakfast receptions, an idea that appeared at other colleges across the country.
“The idea is to put students in small groups with people they have something in common with,” Zlotkowski said.
This year’s orientation also heavily featured new technology, including Facebook and Twitter. The class Facebook page was meant to allow students to enter the school with some connections already established.
Some students chose to receive tweets about upcoming events, a new innovation for the orientation process. Many students found that the reminders were helpful. Despite some confusion, most people survived the registration process.
“It was a bit stressful,” said Erin Roby, ‘14, “but in the end I guess it all worked out.”
Most students seemed to enjoy the speakers provided by Allegheny, particularly the diversity seminar given by Vernon Wall.
“Speeches like that aren’t always interesting, but it was funny and really held my attention,” Roby said.
Subject to mixed reviews was the hypnotist who performed at the campus celebration.
“He made some jokes about kids with special needs that weren’t totally appropriate,” said Sarah Labarre, ’14. “It was meant to be funny, but I could definitely see how it could be offensive.”
Come October, the whole process of planning and analysis will begin all over again. Next year, Zlotkowski hopes to continue the use of new media, which she considers an efficient way to reach the large number of students involved in orientation. In the future, students may receive information about course registration over the summer, in order to prepare them for the process when they arrive on campus.
“It was tough this year, to get them enough information on Saturday and Sunday for them to be ready to make decisions on Monday, so we’re working on that for next year,” Zlotkowski said.