Throughout the month of August, newly-admitted students are receiving a grand welcome to Stevens – the place where they will expand their horizons, launch their careers, form forever friendships and ultimately call their home – at a series of orientation events hosted by the Undergraduate and Graduate Offices of Student Life.
Stevens’ orientation programs serve two purposes – to help the newest members of the Stevens community transition smoothly and settle into life on campus, and to introduce them to peers who will share their journey.
Led by Stevens staff members and student volunteer orientation leaders, events range from moving into residence halls, registering for classes, and picking up Stevens-issued laptops and ID cards, to career development workshops and other informational sessions dedicated to academics and extracurricular activities, to what all incoming students most look forward to – exciting recreational and social events on campus, in Hoboken and New York City.
“Orientation is your launch-pad to college,” said Evan Nelson ’15, orientation coordinator. “Having a good Orientation experience is extremely important for how a freshman student ends up committing to campus. It is the very first thing that makes them feel like a part of the university community.”
Orientation leaders say forming immediate friendships in a stress-free environment and getting situated on campus are some of the biggest assets to the Stevens orientation experience.
“At orientation, new students get to interact with the upper-class students who have a wealth of knowledge about things to do on campus and in the area,” said Nelson. “And since they were once in your shoes, too, you also get to see how they adapted to college life, which can be very reassuring.”
“Stevens is a small enough school that we can really offer freshmen a close-knit experience where they can learn hints, tips and tricks to succeed which would be difficult to learn on their own,” added Brian Juzefyk ’15, a third-year orientation leader.
Many undergraduates choose to participate in pre-orientation, a special, early introduction to the community and traditions at Stevens. Participants spend a few days together before the rest of their classmates arrived on campus engaging in a host of experiences for people with every imaginable interest.
“Pre-orientation at Stevens truly offers something for everyone,” said Holly Nelson, assistant director of student life. “It’s a chance to make connections and friendships with people who share your interests and will be embarking on this great college journey with you.”
The Outdoor Adventure groups canoed, backpacked, mountain biked and rock climbed in Adirondack State Park, while the Performing Arts group toured the famous Apollo Theater, attended Broadway shows and even took acting, music and dance classes with professionals. Meanwhile, the City Life group got the New York City tour of a lifetime and the Sports and Fitness group worked out on the Brooklyn Bridge, biked through Central Park and caught a professional baseball game.
First-year student Reeba James of Elmwood Park, N.J., who was part of the City Life group, said she started pre-orientation knowing only one person at Stevens and left it with a solid group of friends.
“We saw the city together and really bonded throughout the experience,” she said. “I was nervous to begin college at first, but after moving in and meeting so many great people, I felt super comfortable right away. I would recommend it to anyone.”
All incoming undergraduates take part in the traditional Stevens orientation, held from Aug. 21-25, in which they socialize at a campus-wide barbeque, compete in a silly outdoor contents in the Summer Super Bowl, do community service, take part in a Hoboken-wide scavenger hunt powered by the digital app, play Bingo and other game shows, and enjoy comedians, hypnotists and other performers.
A new event this year is the Around the World Event, a social featuring food, music and entertainment from four different regions. Many students will also off-campus excursions like trips to Six Flags Great Adventure, Broadway shows, the Jersey Shore beaches and tubing on the Delaware River.
There are also plenty of sessions to make sure students would be ready to succeed at Stevens, focused on the Stevens Honor Code, academic offerings, cooperative education opportunities, entrepreneurial opportunities, financial aid, study abroad, student clubs, Greek Life, getting around Hoboken, maintaining healthy relationships, and virtually every other aspect of university life.
Some offerings are intended specifically for certain student groups, such as international undergraduates who receive their own welcome dinner, and socials for transfer and commuter students.
And of course, all undergraduates get a chance to meet with their advisors, peer mentors, faculty members and deans, as well as Stevens President Nariman Farvardin.
Graduate students, many who of them come to Stevens from all over the world, also take part in an orientation intended to help them not only transition to Stevens, but to America. Workshops and networking events are held to get students settled into their housing and address questions about academics, career services, U.S. culture, and much more. Faculty and staff are also on hand to meet personally with both international and domestic graduate students and welcome them to campus.
More than 30 international graduate students also took part in the Stevens American Graduate Experience (SAGE), held in late July, which immersed students in the American language, culture and academics for three weeks prior to the start of classes. Visits to famous New York City landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Times Square were some of the highlights, but there were also many more practical sessions, covering topics like international processing, signing a lease, or expectations in an American classroom.
Although it only lasts a few days, orientation participants say the experience significantly shapes years afterward that they spend at the university.
“Orientation and pre-orientation definitely affected my transition to college in an extremely positive way,” said Scott Russell, a first-year student from Newport Beach, Cali. who was part of the Sports and Fitness pre-orientation group. “Being part of a small group helped me get to know people on a personal level. And being on campus early with only the other freshmen got me comfortable with being here and familiar with the campus and the local area before beginning classes.”