Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user alamosbasement.
This year's mandatory and more streamlined freshman orientation will focus on academic planning to better prepare students to achieve their academic goals.
Freshman orientation began this week, marking the first day that the some of the prospective class of 2016 took their first steps on UT campus. And although orientation is often served as a way to “break the ice” and acclimate new Longhorns to the in’s and out’s of college life, this year orientation will implement a new series of changes to make it more academia focused.
One change that will be seen this year is President William Powers will personally welcome the class of 2016, instead of via video, which he has done for the past four years. Orientation this year is also mandatory and will be more streamlined, focusing on academic planning as a means to better prepare freshmen to achieve their academic goals.
Christine Biggs, the head planner of orientation, expounded upon the details of how orientation is making it more academically focused.
“Orientation is now providing a significant increase in the amount of time students are provided in their respective college meetings in order for them to get the best, detailed information regarding their academic paths, classes, and college-specific expectations,” Biggs said.
Furthermore, Biggs said that students are now required to attend a Sanger Learning Center educational session, which emphasizes on the academic transition from high school to college level coursework and how to appropriately plan and prepare for classes at UT Austin.
Why the sudden change though? In the past years there has been an emphasis on increasing the 51 percent graduation rate to 70 percent by 2016. Also, graduating in four years can alleviate some college pains such as the staggering tuition cost and loan expenditures.
“Additionally, an undergraduate degree completed in four years exemplifies a strategic and well executed academic path to potential employers as well as graduate and professional school,” said Biggs.
But will orientation ultimately help students graduate in four years, given that it is only the beginning to the long haul of their collegiate experience? Biggs thinks so.
“The goal of orientation is that incoming students leave here excited about being Longhorns and joining the UT Austin community while ready to immerse themselves in life at UT with an ‘academics first’ mentality.”