Academics and Research / Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

‘Discoveries’ to help new students adjust to college life

From pep rallies and dodgeball to lectures and frank discussions about alcohol and stress, incoming freshmen and transfer students at the University of Denver will find plenty of activities to introduce them to college life at the annualDiscoveries orientation week, kicking off Sept.1.

Discoveries is designed to help new undergraduate students make the best possible start to their DU experience. More than 1,300 students will be grouped into 86 teams led by current DU upperclassmen.

In their groups, new students learn about undergraduate requirements, major and minor requirements, academic and campus resources and laptop configuration. They also register for fall quarter classes, which begin Sept. 8.

Students will participate in “Destinations: Pioneers in the Rockies,” a variety of off-campus adventures led by a faculty mentor and orientation leader.

“Students at an urban/metropolitan school have a unique opportunity to get involved in the local scene,” says Pamela Graglia, assistant director of orientation. “The fact that faculty members are taking them out on the town not only helps them see what Denver has to offer, but helps them feel that they are part of both the DU family and the Denver community.”

During the week, students will attend a pep rally as an introduction to DU traditions and spirit.

A “DU Tube” session aims to get current students talking to new students through pre-recorded Web videos. The videos will be followed by facilitated discussion about diversity, gender violence, stress management and choices around alcohol and other substances.

“We needed a way to touch on a lot of topics that students may experience, to start that dialogue, especially on topics that are often hard to discuss in person” says B. Afeni Cobham, assistant provost of student life. “Given the popularity of social networking like Facebook and YouTube, we thought this would engage them in a way that they are used to and that they understand.”

Social activities — including a performance by master hypnotist Jim Wand, dueling pianos and a dodgeball competition — are scheduled in the evenings.

A special two-day orientation is also offered for parents and families of incoming students, with sessions on study abroad, health and counseling and campus safety.

Helen Johnson, the leading authority on parent relations in higher education, will present “Parenting Your College Student: The Challenge of a Changing Relationship.”

Watch the Discoveries video.

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