It can be scary to find yourself in a new place surrounded by hundreds of new people. That’s where Denison’s First-Year Program steps in.
“So much about the first-year experience is about relationships,” said Mark Moller, dean of first-year students. Moller structures the First-Year Program to emphasize the importance of interpersonal connections, providing first-year students ample opportunities to connect with one another, upperclassmen and faculty.
June Orientation, also known as “June-O,” is an optional program that gives students the opportunity to visit campus in the early summer to register for fall courses and meet other members of the incoming class. Upperclassmen and faculty work with first-years to guide them through the registration process and introduce them to life on the hill.
A second group of orientation programs take place in August, approximately one week before Move-In Day for first years. Aug-O’s are designed to acclimate first-year students to campus and give them the opportunity to interact with their classmates. Students learn how to navigate campus and access their email during the day, and relax in the evening at fun social events.
Students may stay on campus or hit the road to pursue special interests. Recent Aug-O offerings include a bike trip through Ohio, time on a sustainable farm and a trip to Philadelphia to explore urban arts culture. Others include a volunteering experience in Washington, D.C. and a backpacking trip to Kentucky.
Moller says Denison’s orientation programs derive their strength from the involvement of upperclassmen who serve as role models for the first-year students.
Continuing that support throughout the first year is crucial to a student’s success. As part of that framework, first-year students may elect to participate in an advising seminar. The seminar convenes on a weekly basis with a faculty member and small group of other first-year students to discuss their first-year experience.
Moller and his staff also are available during the year to meet with students on a wide range of issues, including academic performance, personal adjustment matters and other areas of concern.