By Emily Wangen
Each summer, thousands of incoming first-year students at the University of Iowa head to campus to participate in a two-day Orientation. Reorganization in Orientation last fall has brought a variety of changes to the program.
One of the more noticeable changes is the switch in academic advising in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the largest UI college.
In the past, students participated in group advising sessions with their academic advisers in computer labs across campus on the second day of Orientation. During this time, students were introduced to the schedule-builder program and began selecting courses. Later in the day, groups met with their academic advisers and registered all at once for the fall semester.
While the new advising process keeps some of the same elements as before, now, students will meet individually with their advisers after having a group meeting the day before. Registration takes place throughout the morning during the individual meetings.
While students are in their advising appointments, others stay in a conference room with their Orientation leaders, known as a Hawkeye guide, Orientation social-media coordinator Molly Hovden said.
Jill Trumm, the associate director of the Academic Advising Center, said this avoids putting stress on the system when all students register for classes at the same time.
Orientation Director Tina Arthur said officials had mulled over the change for years before implementing it this summer. The new schedule-builder program, which allows students to build schedules through MyUI, made the change possible, she said. Schedule-builder was first used last summer during Orientation and went live for all students in the fall.
“Now that we have that technology, we were looking at this being a good summer to try to shake things up,” Arthur said.
Another reason for the switch was the available computer labs. Arthur said Orientation used nearly every computer lab on campus, which led to challenges in securing those spaces during Orientations.
Trumm said the individual advising appointments have benefited students in that they are able to get a feel of the advising process early and know what to expect in the fall.
She noted that academic advisers see a benefit from the change in advising. By having one-on-one meetings with students in their offices, advisers have access to all of their resources and are able to form relationships with students early on.
“It’s not just about building that fall schedule, although that’s certainly important for the student,” Trumm said. “It’s even more about making that connection with the student.”
It is normal for students to arrive feeling anxious at the beginning of their advising appointment and leave feeling relaxed and excited to start the academic year, she said.
Arthur and Trumm said the transition has been well-received by parents and students.
“Overall, students are enjoying, I think, the process and getting a very helpful experience at Orientation,” Trumm said.
When students return to campus in the fall, they will meet with their advisers again for their group fall success meeting, formerly known as new student meetings. During this meeting, students meet in groups to reconnect with their advisers and receive information about navigating campus in the first few weeks.
Another change to Orientation is the time in which they take place. In the past, Orientation ran from June until the end of July. This year, the last program will end July 3, and the shorter time has created overlapping programs throughout the summer. Hovden said the staff was nervous at first about the change, but it has gone well.
“I think it’s made our program a lot more efficient,” Hovden said.