Wednesday, August 28, 2013

They're baaaaack!

It's orientation time again! 
West Virginia Wesleyan College Bobcat Outdoor
Orientation Trip (BOOT) 

While CCO staff were preparing to welcome students back onto campus, XD resource staff were criss-crossing the tri-state area in a record number (for us, at least) of orientation events.  We know anecdotally and through research that orientation experiences can be key in setting the tone for students' college experience. They have gotten even more interest with demonstrated links to college retention. It is a privilege for us to have colleges entrust that experience to us.

Let me share a story of one of the many events XD staff facilitated this month as an example.  

A small college in Pennsylvania approached us this spring for help thinking about  the way new students transitioned into the school. After sharing the model for orientations we have been using over these past few years, they invited us to redesign their Weekend Of Welcome (WOW). 

The model we are currently using is built on the work of Steve Garber found in his book, The Fabric of Faithfulness, where he describes his research with professionals on how they maintained a relevant faith after college and Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton's seminal book on worldviews, The Transforming Vision. During the three or four days of orientation, the freshmen as guided by student leaders through activities and discussions that get them thinking about the following big questions about success in college:
  • Who am I?
  • Where am I going?
  • What company will I keep?
  • How do I get there?
So a couple weeks ago, Paul Harbison and I spent three days training the RA's to facilitate the freshmen during the weekend. It was a fantastic time where students had to wrestle with stepping up to the challenge of being the leaders God asked them to be. Josh Beers, the VP of Student Enrollment at Lancaster Bible College, had this to say about the training:
"I have not seen such transformation among the students in the first three days of this retreat in the last seven years as I did this year."
Lancaster Bible College student leader debrief

Paul returned the following week to lend support to the student leaders as they facilitated the Weekend Of Welcome for 250 freshmen. The event was a huge success and below is a letter from a LBC staff about the fruit from that weekend: 

"I just wanted to share with you some statements shared with me today by a new student. I applaud your successful efforts and praise the Lord, for without Him, we would not hear these kinds of remarks:
'I planned to be guarded with all the new people when I got to campus. But, I have never had so many people intentionally reach out to get to know me. I love this place! This is what I have wanted all of my life – a place where I am accepted and people care about me. I have never had that in my life. I feel like a turtle out if its shell. I plan to make the most of every opportunity here.'

Praise God!
Below is a list of the orientation events and their staffing:
  • Geneva College Trek.  August 6th-10th. Patrick Emery and Jamie Zackavitch.
  • Allegheny College Student Leader Training. August 9th. Steph Wessel and Adrienne Willhoft.
  • Allegheny College Pre-Orientation. August 11th. Adrienne Willhoft.
  • Lancaster Bible College RA retreat and student leader training. August 12th-14th. Paul Harbison and Francois Guilleux.
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College Student Leader Training. August 13th. Kelly Ozelski.
  • West Virginia Bobcat Outdoor Orientation Trip (BOOT). August 14th-16th. Kelly Ozelski, Jamie Zackavitch, Andy Harlan, Joy Guilleux, Adrienne Willhoft, Sam Van Eman, Francois Guilleux, Krista Purcell.
  • Ohio Wesleyan Student Leader Training. August 17th-18th. Kelly Ozelski.
  • Ohio Wesleyan University Fresh X. August 19th-21st. Kelly Ozelski, Jamie Zackavitch, Andy Harlan, Adrienne Willhoft, Sam Van Eman, Francois Guilleux.
  • Lancaster Bible College Weekend of Welcome (WOW). August 22-24th. Paul Harbison.
  • Shippensburg Fellowship Retreat. August 23rd. Sam Van Eman.
  • Geneva College Freshmen Day. August 23rd. Patrick Emery.
  • Geneva College Freshmen Service Day. August 24th. Patrick Emery.
  • Durham Academy Orientation. August 25th-29th. Jamie Zackavitch.
  • Pulse House Orientation. August 26th. Adrienne Willhoft and Patrick Emery.
  • Wilmington Area Schools Staff Retreat @ Westminster College. August 26th. Francois Guilleux.
  • Portersville High School Senior trip. September 19th-22nd. Paul Harbison.
  • Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades First Year Orientation. October 3rd-4th.  Kelly Ozelski, Jamie Zackavitch, Andy Harlan, Adrienne Willhoft, Sam Van Eman, Paul Harbison, Jeremy Stoltzfus.

I am grateful for such an amazing team of staff who really did a great job this year.
Some took notice of this good work, as seen in this note from Rock Jones, the president of Ohio Wesleyan University whose pre-orientation we facilitate, sent to the CCO staff on OWU's campus:

"Can you send me a list of students who served as FreshX [Freshmen eXperience] leaders (and the correct title for their role?). I want to send them thank you notes. I have heard nothing but excellent reports from those who participated. Thank you for your leadership in this strong program." 

Did you ever receive a thank you note from your college's president when you were a student!? 

Lancaster Bible College WOW introductions

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

15 Experiences Everyone Should Have in College?

Caught this on the interwebs. It reminded me of how narrow a view of what it means to be human students encounter in college.

For some alternative views of making the most out of college, check out these resources by former CCO staff Don Opitz and Derek Melleby: