Annual UMD Bulldog Welcome Week
When first arriving at UMD, students may be nervous and sometimes unprepared for the many changes that take place during their college career. Through a variety of initiatives, UMD opens the door every year during Welcome Week in order to usher in new students; whether they are freshmen or transferring from another campus, Welcome Week is a great time to learn about the campus.
The overall goal of Welcome Week is for each student to find social connections and develop a go-to list of resources to help them through their first year. The underlying hope is that students will have an easier time adjusting to being away from home and making new friends; but most important is the motivating factor built within the four-five day program that welcomes students to the campus where they can learn about everything UMD has to offer in less than a week. In order for the student experience to truly be successful, however, an open mind is essential in learning, engaging, and building community.
Throughout the weeklong events, students are randomly placed into groups where they connect socially and academically as they go through orientations, tours, and outdoor "get-to-know-you" games.
How Students and Parents Should Prepare for the Workshops
Students in Transition (SIT) was formerly known as First Year Experience, and provides programs and services designed to help first year students with their transition into the UMD community. These include Advisement & Registration, Bulldog Welcome Week, the UMD Seminar, and walk-in support and services. SIT also offers assistance to transfer students through the Advisement & Registration program, Fall Welcome, and the Transfer Touchpoints Program, and by assisting transfer students in finding specific campus resources. Transfer students are always welcome to stop by the SIT office with questions and concerns. The SIT staff members understand and recognize that parents, guardians and family members play a significant role in helping their students prepare for college life. Several of the SIT programs have a parent/family component, including Advisement & Registration and Bulldog Welcome Week.
"I want students to realize that they will meet a lot of people," said SIT Orientation Programs Coordinator Jen Doebler. "The students may not know it now but these connections might turn into a best friend, future spouse, or become an extended sibling. I want to stress that they should never solely connect on a superficial level – spend time learning about each individual. The ending goal for students in Welcome Week is for them to learn how to create social connections and dig deep with every new person they meet."
Doebler advises parents to follow the rule of the "magic first six weeks and encourage your young adults to stay on campus in order to do well academically and engage socially. They need to grow into their college-self," said Doebler. "Remind them why they are in school and help them see their future after they finish school. You have given them their roots and wings, now just remind them they are fully supported and need to branch out and fly on their own."
Shift from First Year Experience (FYE) to Students in Transition (SIT)
“The title FYE was a limiting scope," said Doebler. "We used to focus on the transition that first years go through, now we take on transfer students too, so we had to change the name or else it would limit our opportunities.”
By moving into a larger office space, SIT is far more open and the offices are located in a single space. In the past, the offices were scattered around the Solon Campus Center (SCC) and difficult for new students to navigate. With the role of SIT focusing on creating a positive campus culture, staff members agree that it begins with advisement and registration where students are introduced to a new world. "We encourage students to become bold and friendly," Doebler said. "Then for Welcome Week we continue to stress the importance of being bold and friendly in order to create social ties. We want to coach students through each transition to see them grow and become successful.We want people to be energized for the new school year, and to fully reach their potential."
Written by Christina Higgins and Christiana Kapsner, August 2012