Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Discoveries program welcomes new students to campus

Students attend a Discoveries activity on DU's lacrosse field in 2008. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Students attend a Discoveries activity on DU’s lacrosse field in 2008. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Many first-year students enter their first week at college with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The University of Denver’s annual Discoveries orientation week is designed to ease some of that anxiety and give first-year and transfer students the best possible start to their DU experience.

On Labor Day, 1,240 first-year and 190 transfer students will attend a week’s worth of activities designed to introduce incoming students to the University’s resources and community standards.

Student sessions include undergraduate requirements, major and minor requirements, academic and campus resources, laptop configuration, and fall-quarter registration. They will also take part in a pep rally to introduce DU traditions and Pioneer Passage, a ceremony featuring Provost Gregg Kvistad, the All-Undergraduate Student Association president and faculty members. Social gatherings throughout the week include a tailgate party, dueling pianos, a hypnotist and a moonlit movie on the Driscoll Green.

First-year students will be grouped into 85 orientation teams made up 15 students who have registered for the same First-Year Seminar. A DU faculty member and an upperclassman will lead each group.

The required First-Year Seminars are designed to provide students with a rigorous academic experience.  Selected seminars this fall include: “The American Nightmare: Social Anxiety and the Contemporary Horror Film,” “Introduction to Forensic Science and Real Life CSI,”  “Make Me Laugh: To Wit, the Theory, Practice, and Enjoyment of Comedy,” and “You are What You Eat: A Course in Food Chemistry.”

Instructors of the First-Year Seminars also serve as students’ academic advisers and faculty mentors for the year.

Megan Lyons, assistant director of Discoveries Orientation, says DU’s small size provides a personal orientation experience.

“The way our orientation program is linked to our first-year seminars gets students academically focused, and the week-long format allows students and faculty members more time to get to know each other,” Lyons says.

Brian Travis, a Discoveries intern, agrees. 

“This type of orientation is really the foundation for students’ entire DU experience,” he says. “Two of the cornerstones of the Pioneer experience are unique personal faculty interaction and a tight knit community of peers.”

A parent and family orientation will take place Sept. 6 and 7.  These special sessions are designed to address parents’ specific needs. 

“These days, parents feel very connected to their students, and it’s important that they feel confident that DU will benefit their student and that they know their student is in good hands,” Lyons says. “A special orientation helps the University communicate up front with the parents so that they know what the college process is like and what the University has to offer their student.”

Parents will attend sessions on study abroad, health and counseling and campus safety. 

Helen Johnson, the leading authority on parent relations in higher education and author of Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money: The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years also will speak.

 Important Discoveries Dates

First-Year Student Orientation
Sept. 6–10

Transfer Student Orientation
Sept. 7­–9

Parent and Family Orientation
Sept. 6–7

First Day of Classes
Sept. 13

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