[Fresh] New Student Orientation

John Immerwahr (jimmerwa@email.villanova.edu)
Wed, 25 Aug 1999 13:21:46 -0400

Welcome to Fresh@News, Villanova's e-mail news service for parents and
friends of the class of 2003. Please do not try to reply to this
message. If you have questions, please contact John Immerwahr
(Jimmerwa@Email.Villanova.Edu). Our first posting is an interview with
Kathy Byrnes, Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Director of
1999 New Student Orientation.

Fresh@News: We've just completed the four-day New Student Orientation
Program at Villanova, and the new students are having their first
classes today. Most of us who watched Orientation or participated in it
thought it went very well indeed. What is the secret?

Ms. Byrnes: At Villanova, Orientation is planned and implemented by
students themselves. All of the students who work on Orientation have
been new students themselves, and they are constantly asking themselves
about what will work best with new students who are just a few years
behind them. Indeed, we expect that many of this year's new students
will themselves volunteer their time to work with us on Orientation in
the years to come. The students really make the program happen.

Fresh@News: What are some of the high points of Orientation?

Ms. Byrnes: I always enjoy the excitement and nervous energy of opening
day. The students arrive with a certain amount of fear and trepidation,
excited about their new lives but also anxious and a bit scared. Even
by the end of the first day you can see the students starting to relax
and feel at home; and you can watch them begin the process of making new
friends, many of whom they will keep for the rest of their lives. Being
part of the experience is most gratifying.

Fresh@News: A number of people talked about Professor Jackman's speech
to the whole class at the ceremony on the last night. Can you tell us a
little about it?

Ms. Byrnes: Professor Jackman (who is in the Communication Department)
is one of our most popular professors. He told the new students that
their four years at Villanova would be a wonderful journey, and he
suggested that they pack light for the trip. He asked them to leave old
baggage behind (such as their fears and anxieties), and he asked them to
pack seven things: work, integrity, leadership, duty, curiosity,
ambition, and teamwork. After talking about each item for a few
minutes, he told the class that if they took the first letter of each of
those words, they would spell out "WILDCAT." He also told the students
to keep in touch with their parents and families at home. "Don't let
them think," he said, "that you have gone into the witness protection

Fresh@News: There is an enormous amount that the new students cover
during Orientation, including academic advising, orientation to
Villanova's technology, and sessions on many aspects of campus life. The
program also has some fun activities for the students as well. Tell us
about that side of the program.

Ms. Byrnes: One of the most successful activities, which we did for the
first time this year, was to take the whole group of students off
campus for a baseball game at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia. It was
quite a sight to see 1600 students pile into 38 buses and leave
Villanova for the game. At the game, a student musical group sang the
national anthem and one of our new students, Brian Meyers (from
Pittsburgh) was chosen by lottery to toss out the opening ball. It was
a beautiful summer evening, and the students had a wonderful time. The
whole stadium seemed to pick up on their high spirits and enthusiasm.

Fresh@News: What are some of the developmental issues that you see for
first year students at Villanova?

Ms. Byrnes: It is normal for students to have some complaints,
anxieties, and bumps in the road, and to feel a bit homesick. College
is a big transition, and it takes students awhile to feel at home and to
forge new links. I would also suggest that parents not take at face
value what students say about their new maturity and independence. Home
is still very important to them, much more important than they may be
willing to say. The old advice, "Don't turn your new student's bedroom
into your study right away," has a lot of wisdom. It is also a time
when students need to acquire new skills. Time management is an
especially big problem for students with all of the distractions of
college life, and they often think they are doing better than they are.

Fresh@News: What can parents do to help?

Ms. Byrnes: We have a lot of resources here at Villanova to help our
students, and parents might want to take a look at the Student Life
website to see what is available: www.studentlife.villanova.edu. If
your student is having a problem in a particular area, you might suggest
that he or she contact the office that is there to help students with
that issue. There is also an interesting reading list for parents at
www.parents.villanova.edu. We feel that this is an outstanding class
and that they are off to a good start. We look forward to seeing many
of you at Parent's weekend.

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