Orientation program eases transition from high school to New Kensington campus

New Student Orientation is a three-day program designed to help Penn State New Kensington students successfully transition from high school to college.

The program is a concerted effort by faculty and staff to ensure that incoming students feel comfortable and welcome in their new surroundings. It gives first-year students the opportunity to examine their academic abilities, interests and educational plans before their first semester of classes. Orientation provides students with a basic understanding of what will be expected of them at Penn State and how their particular abilities and interests may fit with one or more of the University's majors.

“It is important for students to have the opportunity to interact with their classmates before classes begin,” said Sean Bridgen, advising program coordinator. “We know that strong relationships with campus personnel greatly increase the likelihood that students will graduate.”

The orientation sessions are spread out over the three summer months. The first session, Day One, features five programs in June and August. New students are required to attend one of the five sessions where they plan a course schedule, register for fall classes and receive general campus service information. The final two programs are set for Aug. 8 and 11.

“In the morning, students meet in small groups with faculty, staff, and orientation leaders to discuss and assess their academic and life goals,” Bridgen said. “In the afternoon, they meet one-on-one with an academic adviser. We believe that academic advising is a key component of a Penn State education.”

Parents and families are invited to Day One activities. Families are encouraged to participate to get acquainted with the campus, its policies, procedures and services. Topics of interest for parents are "Partnering with the University" and "Billing and Financial Aid."

“Parents and families can expect to learn more about campus resources and how Penn State communicates expectations to students,” said Theresa Bonk, director of student affairs.

In addition to getting acquainted with the campus, students have a homework assignment as a part of the First-Year Summer Reading program. The book, “This I Believe: Life Lessons,” edited by Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Mary Jo Gediman, will be discussed on Aug. 20, the second day of orientation. Day Two brings together all new students for the campus tradition of orientation "prides." Each student is assigned to one of six pride groups that is headed by orientation leaders who are upperclassmen.

As a pride, students attend interactive workshops to learn about academic procedures, electronic resources and extracurricular activities. Faculty will lead discussions on the summer reading assignment.
Students return the next day, Aug. 21, for the final preparation session before beginning their college careers. Day Three includes the Academic Convocation, Pride Olympics, and meeting faculty and current students in their chosen fields of study.

The convocation is a formal ceremony led by Chancellor Kevin Snider. Faculty and staff, replete in their academic robes, officially welcome students to the campus. Reuniting of all six prides, the Olympics gives students the opportunity to compete in a variety of challenges that encourage teamwork and leadership. It also gives the newcomers another opportunity to mingle with fellow freshmen.

Orientation concludes with a maritime journey on Pittsburgh's three rivers. The annual evening cruise aboard the Gateway Clipper brings together freshmen from the Penn State campuses of Beaver and New Kensington. As the new semester dawns, the class of 2018 will join upperclassmen Aug. 25 to begin working toward their bachelor's and associate degrees.

For questions on the orientation process, email nkorientation@psu.edu or call the orientation hotline at 724-334-6143.

For more information on orientation, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/nso.

Last Updated July 17, 2014