When new students arrived on campus in mid-August, they were introduced to Orientation Leaders (OLs) rather than the previous Upper Class Counselors (UCCs). While a recent survey of new students, faculty advisors and OLs conducted by the Office of New Student Programs found that a majority of respondents felt the overall quality of the OLs was “excellent,” it also found that many members of the faculty wished to return to the old system. The survey was voluntary, with 133 respondents.
This year’s orientation program had significantly larger advising groups than the UCC program: 16 to 22 new students were assigned to two OLs, double the amount assigned to student leaders under the previous system.
The changes to the program resulted from a Quality of Life Survey conducted in 2016 which found that 34 percent of respondents felt their UCC was “not at all important” or “unimportant” in their transition experience. The recent survey of new students concerning the new OL system found that their OLs were “most helpful” in their course registration process in addition to their overall quality being “excellent.”
“I think that goes to show that some of the new training that we’ve been doing have really helped because that wasn’t always the case in the past,” Associate Director of New Student Programs Lacey Filkins, who runs the OL program, said. Overall, a majority of new students reported feeling confident, connected with the community and prepared for their first day of classes after the new orientation experience.
The survey also asked for feedback from faculty advisors. Many faculty responded they wished to return to the old system because of concerns about OLs not having enough time to help their students, because they had to manage double the amount of students.
In addition, they were not able to choose which OL to work with as they were able to under the UCC system.
“One of the changes we will go back to for next year is giving the faculty members the list of OLs we have trained and letting them pick from that list,” Filkins said. “If they get to pick their UCC or OL, chances are they are going to have a better working relationship with that person,” she said.
From the perspective of the OLs themselves, 51 percent of respondents found “working with an OL partner” to be “excellent.” The results for “working with two faculty advisors” and “working directly with 8-10 new students” were also positive with a majority of respondents marking “good” or better.
Justin Clark ’19 served as an OL this year. He thought the program was an improvement.
“[I] appreciated the kind of varied advice and experiences that two OLs and two faculty advisors can share with students,” he said.
The 2017 New Student Programs Feedback Report is public and can be accessed on the Kenyon website.