In recent years, the Orientation Planning Committee (OPC), a committee comprised of representatives from Western University, the USC, and the affiliated university colleges, carried out a review of Western’s Orientation Program. The review revealed that very little programming with an academic focus was occurring during Orientation Week.
A survey of first year students conducted following Orientation Week 2012 indicated that the students wanted more preparation sessions for the upcoming academic year. Additionally, many students indicated a desire for more academically orientated programs; they were eager to start their education!
Concurrently, the Executive Council of the USC visited Cornell University and was intrigued by this university’s approach to Orientation. Cornell invited anyone who wished to hold an event during the Orientation period to submit a proposal for review by the university.
Upon review, the event proposal would be approved provided the event aligned with the desired outcomes of Cornell’s Orientation program. The result was an Orientation Week that provided an extremely large number of diverse activities, many of which were academic and artistic in nature.
Following their visit to Cornell, the USC completed a detailed study of the Orientation programs at Cornell University, Princeton University, Yale University, and Harvard University. The results of the study indicated that the “Cornell model” was a standard for many Ivey league schools.
This model allowed for a much broader variety of programs and engaged many more sectors of the campus community.
The study also revealed that the number of academically oriented events and programs at these universities composed between fifty and sixty percent of Orientation activity as compared to fewer than twenty percent of all Orientation events during Western’s O-Week (in 2012). As a result, OPC has moved forward with significant new initiatives designed to connect academic resources extant in the Student Success Center and in each of the faculties to first year students.
Planning to this end is proceeding rapidly and communications between staff in various Faculties and in the Student Success Centre regarding academic support sessions are well advanced.
Stay tuned for exciting O-Month events set for the fall of 2017!