The University of Georgia Office of Undergraduate Admissions is continuing to make significant changes to the summer orientation experience, thanks in large part to the feedback received from students, parents and families, and staff who have participated in the process.
Through post-orientation surveys and input from university faculty, staff, campus partners and external review teams, UGA has implemented organizational changes to orientation that help streamline the process. These changes have allowed the orientation staff to focus on the most necessary information for students and families as well as add flexibility in the schedule.
The most notable change in the new student orientation process is the reduction of a full two-day event filled with required information sessions to a friendlier day-and-a-half format in which parents and students may choose the most applicable sessions. Students still are given the option of an overnight stay in a residence hall.
Other changes to summer orientation include a new program for parents and family members that focuses on their role as supporters in their student’s transition to UGA. Their sessions focus on guiding students through the transition process and highlighting on-campus resources for them and their students.
“Our program has seen a great deal of evolution in recent years,” said Alton M. Standifer, director for new student orientation. “As we continue to improve our practice and gain regional and national recognition for our work, aligning our staff to meet the needs of our incoming population is yet another example of us working towards setting a strong standard as the birthplace of public higher education in America.”
In addition, UGA has streamlined communications with students and families through the launch of a new “Welcome to UGA” app that provides direct access to academic and campus resources, orientation session schedules for both parent and student sessions, FAQs, student to-do lists and other general information.
This new streamlined communication continues with a new monthly newsletter to parents and families with topics relevant to their student’s first year at UGA. The newsletter includes reminders of academic and campus resources, information on new academic initiatives, and other resources that their students might need during their first year of college.
Lastly, UGA has expanded the 2018 summer orientation staff from 12 to 15 student orientation leaders to better meet student needs. This marks the first time in 19 years the student orientation staff has increased.
Since the late 1960s, the UGA orientation leaders have served as the first point of contact for first-year and transfer students at the university. Through memorable skits, songs and words of encouragement, the orientation leaders provide students with a high-energy, upbeat and positive welcome to their college careers. The orientation leaders serve as an important resource for parents and families who choose to attend the summer orientation sessions.
“As we see an increase in the number of orientation guests, we needed to add additional staff members in these key roles to continue providing the level of customer service and hospitality that parents and families have come to expect from UGA Orientation,” Standifer said.
The new orientation leaders receive extensive training before they each lead 24 summer orientation sessions for first-year and transfer students, two orientation sessions for international students and two appearances at the Freshman College Summer Experience.
The 2018 orientation leaders, their hometowns and majors are Danielle Au, Alpharetta, advertising; Emily Austin, Douglasville, psychology; Ja’Kyra Austin, Hampton, biochemistry and molecular biology; Elizabeth Digiovanni, Marietta, music therapy; Ammishaddai Grand-Jean, Jonesboro, political science and economics; Cole Harper, Ocilla, psychology and political science; Will Harper, Peachtree Corners, marketing; John Kutteh, Collierville, Tennessee, communication studies; Taylor Maggiore, Bishop, journalism; Madison Metcalf, Evans, human development and family sciences; Destin Mizelle, Riverdale, psychology; Isabella Nixon, Cumming, interior design; Gabrielle Pohlman, Pike Road, Alabama, biology; Navdeep Singh, Lithonia, pharmaceutical sciences; and William Yancey, Douglasville, finance.