Orientation class gets revamped this semester

Lyndsay Elliott

Freshman students will be the first to experience a new orientation program at Kent State this fall.

The new name for freshman orientation, a one-credit-hour requirement for every first-year student, is First Year Colloquium. The new orientation set-up will offer students an opportunity to choose the subject of their class.

“The idea is to get students connected to faculty who are passionate about what they are doing,” said Lauren Pernetti, first-year colloquium coordinator.

Students can choose from traditional first-year colloquium courses or flash topics sections.

The first-year colloquium classes will be similar to the previous orientation classes, with an emphasis on time management, scheduling, diversity and transition issues.

Pernetti said flash topic classes are part of a pilot program for the fall semester. The topics focus on specific subjects and are offered according to college. Faculty members will teach these courses, which they have personally designed, while integrating basics of the traditional first-year colloquium class.

“One instructor is even taking his class to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky as part of the course,” Pernetti said.

Pernetti said the goal of the colloquium course is to retain first-year students by “making them feel that someone cares about them.”

“We want the freshman to feel happy to be at Kent, and by making a connection with a professor who knows their name, hometown and little things about them, it can help create excitement about themselves as well as the university,” Pernetti said.

Pernetti said the faculty teaching the first-year colloquium classes seems excited.

“I hope the new course will create the right kind of energy and it will be infectious,” Pernetti said.

Debbie Barber, assistant dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services, said about 60 total flash topic pilot programs exist, with eight in her college.

Barber said she hopes students will be excited about the subjects offered in the new course.

“A common theme in the evaluations of the orientation classes has been it is a waste of time, but the students liked the community building,” Barber said.

Barber said the flash topics will be more interesting and stimulating for students.

“The ultimate goal is student success,” Barber said.

Barber said the objective of the College of Education, Health and Human Services is to build community within the class and help students create an identity with the college.

“We want the students to make connections with student instructors and faculty so they can call and talk to them about problems or questions and feel they have someone they can turn to who cares,” Barber said.

Barber and Pernetti said if the program is successful the university will be considering making all first-year colloquium courses flash topics.

“It is a new era at KSU, with new administration and new exciting things happening,” said Barber. “I hope everyone will get excited.”

The classes will only allow 20 students maximum in order to keep the size small and personal.

Pernetti said President Lester Lefton suggested and encouraged the new first-year colloquium flash topics. Tulane University, where Lefton served as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost before coming to Kent State, has a similar program.

Contact fashion and College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Lyndsay Elliott at [email protected].