PATHWAYS Update, May 2015: New Orientation Will Engage Students, Focus on Academic Advising

wc-nso-team-groveLeft to right: Gabrielle Younker, Eve Walden, Eliana Miscannon, Mary McGowan, Melanie Price, Shirley Boyette and Lorie Bellot

By Eve Walden, Director, New Student Orientation Curriculum

Currently, 43 percent of students who attend Valencia’s New Student Orientation do not enroll in classes the following semester. Although many of those students enroll at a later time, we want to make sure more students are able to follow through on their initial plans and register to attend in the upcoming semester.

This summer, Valencia is piloting a New Student Orientation (NSO) curriculum that will welcome and engage all degree-seeking students through technology, social media, broader College connections and course registration. Monday, June 1, 2015, is the target date for rolling the new orientation out to incoming fall students on all campuses.

“Our goal is to make orientation relevant, enjoyable, productive and engaging while still respecting the kinds of demands our students have on their schedules,” said Eve Walden, director, new student orientation curriculum, who is charged with guiding the NSO team through the redesign process, which is funded by PATHWAYS (Title III).

The new NSO model was designed by NSO Coordinators Lorie Bellot, Shirley Boyette, Mary McGowan and Melanie Price along with Academic Advisors Micheline Maalouf and Eliana Miscannon and Student Services Advisor Gabrielle Younker.

The current model’s strength is advising, and advising will be an even deeper part of the new NSO experience, as students will register for a full course schedule as part of NSO. An engaging advising learning experience was designed by Campus Directors of Advising Ed Holmes and Evelyn Lora-Santos.

“Millennials check their phones an average of 43 times a day,” said Eve. “That means that connecting with our students via texting and social media is a valuable piece of our revised curriculum.” New connections with students on campus and through social media will do just that, with a new Valencia College NSO landing page, the new #ValenciaNOW and texting options to remind students of their next step in the orientation process.

Developing the new NSO involved multiple Valencia departments working in partnership, including Atlas, admissions, OIT, marketing, transitions and advising. Lisa Stilke, director, Atlas Information Systems, Josh Murdock, instructional designer/developer and Erica Reese, director, standardized testing, made significant contributions to the project.

This spring, PATHWAYS funded a West Campus team of New Student Experience faculty to assist in designing learning experiences for the online and on-campus orientation curriculum in order to make this a true learning experience for students.

NSE faculty will play a significant role in on-campus orientation and make advising in a group of 25 or more students a personal experience. Their curriculum expertise, combined with classroom teaching knowledge, will be crucial in facilitating connections for students. NSE faculty will also assist by welcoming and engaging students during learning experiences and advising students.

Part One: Online Orientation

All students will complete an online orientation prior to coming to campus. Housed in Blackboard, the course is a rich, interactive experience that connects students with Valencia. Learning outcomes focus on residency status, financial aid eligibility, choosing an AA or AS degree and pairing meta-majors with career goals. Students will take both the career and academic reviews. New college interactive maps designed by marketing will orient students to each of our campuses, and student testimonials will highlight relatable examples to help students in their educational choices.

Part 2: On-Campus Orientation

After completing online orientation, students will sign up for on-campus orientation. Specific orientations are designed for three groups of students: first-time in college, transfers and students not mandated into developmental education.

Students will receive a text reminder to attend orientation. Once on campus, new signage will welcome and direct students to an engaging campus experience that is designed to help them connect with other students, faculty and advising staff.

The most significant outcome of on-campus orientation will be registration for fall courses. Start Right course guides will provide students with just-in-time guidance to ensure a successful start. In addition, students will learn about payment options, which will increase the likelihood that they will keep the schedule they worked so hard to select. Orientation will conclude with a “send-off” experience to promote connections to Valencia through social media.

In addition, several information sessions will also be offered for family members throughout the summer.

For more information on the College’s New Student Orientation curriculum, contact, Eve at ewalden@valenciacollege.edu or extension 5891.

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