Though fewer freshmen were admitted to UC Davis this year, more attended orientation.
Approximately 96 percent of the incoming freshman class attended the three-day long event. The number has been steadily increasing since New Student Services has partnered with admissions, said Heidi Souverville, program director of the service.
“We’re increasing our presence in the recruitment process, and letting incoming freshmen know from day one that [orientation] is the next thing they need to do,” Souverville said.
Souverville also credited the high turnout to the rising cost of tuition.
“Education is more of an investment,” she said. “Students and their families want to do everything they can to make sure this is a successful investment, so orientation is a way to secure that.“
Students who attended orientation this year belonged to a class with an average grade point average of 4.03. Incoming freshman Hillary Lawson noted the high average and admittance rate, suggesting that increased competition could perhaps be the reason why more freshmen attended.
“It’s going to be hard to compete with the students in this class,” said Lawson, who will be majoring in cell biology. “We need to stay on top of our game.“
The orientation program has made several changes in the past few years that officials hope will boost retention rate.
“We’ve restructured our program so that orientation is not just three days, rather the first year,‘ Souverville said. “We’ve created a new student handbook so that students will know the basics of the transition they will have to make.“
New Student Services has also implemented an internal academic tracking system, so that summer advisers during orientation will have access to test scores and advise students according to those scores. The comments made during orientation will then be transferred to the students‘ academic advisor and will stay with the students‘ records until he or she graduates.
Souvervill said that the changes they have made to the program use the psychological concept known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which states that humans must first satisfy their physiological needs, then safety needs and then needs of affection and belongingness.
She said that orientation emphasizes that these needs will be met by allowing students to eat at the Dining Commons, briefing them on safety options and health tips and encouraging them to explore the various clubs and organizations available on campus.
“When students understand the services available to them throughout their four years here, they will certainly do better,” Souverville said.
Another slight change that may have helped attract more students to orientation was changing the name from “summer advising” to “freshmen orientation,” said Chris Dietrich, three-year orientation leader and ASUCD vice president.
“I think the name change made the program seem less like a helpful option and more welcoming,” he said.
Orientation leaders also assist in promoting attendance. Dietrich and other leaders call students who have indicated that they will not attend orientation, and try to persuade them to come.
“There’s just a really big push toward coming to orientation,” Dietrich said. “This year’s turnout showed that students are really excited about coming to UC Davis.“
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at email@example.com XXX