Orientation prepares new students for college life

During the summer each year, first-year students and transfer students to Western Carolina University attend orientations sessions to become acclimated to their new school and to meet their future classmates, as well.

At these summer orientation sessions, students and family members may attend together. Transfer student sessions are one day in length and the first-year student sessions are two-days long.

When students arrive, they must sign in and listen to a speech from Dr. Sam Miller, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“[Miller] is the first person to speak to the students to really set the stage for what to expect over the course of their career here at WCU, said Tammy Haskett, director of new student orientation. “He covers everything from the size of the incoming class, their stats, academic integrity, going to class, getting involved, information on student clubs and organizations, faith community, Greek Life, athletics, intramurals, consequences of bad choices (alcohol, drugs, etc.). The list is fairly long.”

Other sessions students will attend cover how to take control of your education, running degree audits, the liberal studies program, tuition surcharge, parking, fees and fines, tuition payments, insurance, health services, Campus Recreation Center (CRC), etc.

“Most of our sessions following Dr. Miller’s session are led by our student orientation leaders as well as assistance from our orientation counselors,” said Haskett.

Students get a sampling of what kinds of activities and resources are available to them throughout the year. They get to workout at the CRC, play some lawn games, participate in the “UC Whee Takeover” activities, movies and more.

Students and parents tour around campus to the sessions/activities contained within orientation, but it is not the structured tour that is provided by the Admissions Office. Orientation counselors are trained to do this.

Haskett said that orientation sessions are very hands-on, much more than just taking placement exams. In fact, they do not administer placement exams.

Orientation is also a time to plan for the future, both academically and physically. According to the first-year student orientation webpage at wcu.edu, it is the orientation staff’s goal for students to leave with a class schedule for the upcoming fall semester.

In order to complete class schedules, first-year students must have met the immunization requirements as set forth by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for college students. Those requirements include: 3 TDap or combination of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, 2 MMR or combination of measles, mumps and rubella, and the Hepatitis B series.

Also prior to the orientation session, students must email a digital photo to the CatCard Office (catcard@wcu.edu) or mail a hard copy photo to WCU CatCard Office one week before their scheduled orientation session so that they can pick up CatCards at check-in. Orientations end following an advising session when students receive their class schedule.

The orientation’s webpage advises that students bring extra-long twin bed linens, a small fan, pillow, towel, toiletries, comfortable walking shoes, a light jacket and rain gear, as the acronym WCU is jokingly referred to mean “We Carry Umbrellas” by students.

All students who attend orientation are required to stay on campus. Each student will be paired with a roommate as part of their introduction to student life. Students stay in Scott Residence Hall along with the orientation counselors.

Registered parents and guests may opt to stay on campus for a $100 all-inclusive fee per person. Parents/guests that opt to stay on campus will be placed in Blue Ridge Hall. If parents and guests would like to stay off campus, please contact the Chamber of Commerce at 828-586-2155. The standard parent/guest fee is $70 per person for off campus guests.

The scheduled orientation sessions for first-year students this summer are as follows: June 10-11, June 13-14, June 17-18, June 20-21, June 27-28 and July 1-2.

Transfer student orientation dates are: Friday, June 7,Tuesday, June 25, and Friday, August 16.

Finally, an orientation for students in the Academic Success Program (ASP) will run from Sunday-Monday, June 23-24.