The university is gearing up for freshman orientations this summer, with the first session coming up on June 19-20.
In total, there are seven freshman, non-international sessions over the course of the summer, with the last falling on July 29-30. Lisa Starr, director of orientation programs, describes the orientation experience as an opportunity for students to begin navigating their new lives at the university.
“Orientation is your road map — to help the anxiety of the registration process be out of the way by the time you come to Welcome Week,” Starr said.
The two-day period allows incoming freshman to get properly acquainted with the university and, as Starr mentioned, register for their classes in the fall. The orientation office plans for the sessions up to a year in advance, and is currently transitioning from operating under Student Affairs to the admissions office.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs Gene Bickers oversaw the transition. “The switch makes sense in a lot of ways,” Bickers said, “because all the admission officers visit high schools and also meet with students on campus, and so it sort of makes sense that orientation would be handled by the same part of the university.”
In addition to the change in structure, a few small-scale adjustments were made to this summer’s series of orientations to improve the individual experience for each student attending.
For example, this year’s attendees will have individual or small group sessions with advisors to coach them through the registration process. New USC parents will also have the opportunity for a question-and-answer session with current USC parents, Bickers said.
Starr stressed that, more than anything, the most important goal of orientation is to make sure students don’t feel lost in the process of adjusting to college life.
“We’re a large university, but we want to have a small college experience, and I think that’s what our orientations through the summer enable us to do,” she said.
Each orientation session holds roughly 300 incoming freshman, and from there, the students are divided into groups of 15-20.
“You’re going to relate to 15 or 20 students more than you are 300,” Starr said.
Starr has something in common with the incoming freshman. Joining the orientation team as director in January, this is also going to be her first summer orientation series. She stated she’s not apprehensive, but just eager to witness how it turns out.
“I’m just excited. I want to see it all come together,” she said.