Revamping orientation

Kevin Kolus

Specialized classes aim to help freshmen feel connected to KSU

Incoming freshmen of Fall 2007 will experience what students have always wanted from the orientation program: choices.

Lauren Pernetti, coordinator of First Year Colloquium, said upcoming changes in the orientation process will allow students to choose from special topics classes instead of the traditional orientation class. Each college was asked to submit topic ideas for these “pilot classes,” and 25 to 30 sections are already being integrated for fall semester.

“These changes are to bring the orientation process up-to-date and become more responsive to the students and university so the students can interact with the fantastic faculty,” Pernetti said.

Each pilot class will be taught by faculty or staff and possibly a trained undergraduate student. The faculty could take students on field trips, engage in research topics and invite guest speakers.

Gary Padak, dean of Undergraduate Studies, said of the 180 orientation classes, only the pilot classes will focus on special topics. Because orientation is a requirement for graduation, the university wanted to “provide a little more choice,” he said.

For example, a pilot class called “Shop Till You Drop: Surviving in the Retail Jungle” will be held in the fall. A faculty member with 25 years experience in the retail industry will teach students how to become smarter shoppers, Padak said.

This will include taking students to local retail outlets and engaging them in data collection and research.

“The topics are popular interest, and it could give some students a chance to immediately engage in their fields,” he said. “A number of these topics will have a service requirement to them that could give (students) a different experience from the traditional colloquium.”

Joel Hudak, freshman fashion design and merchandising major, said he supports the idea of specialized topic classes.

“I like how the orientation classes group with the major,” he said. “If you had to pick what you wanted, the classes may be more beneficial than information about the university you don’t need to know.”

Pernetti said the pilot sections will be one hour and 15 minutes long and last for 10 weeks. The traditional classes will be 50 minutes long and last 15 weeks.

In a meeting last Friday with the editors of the Daily Kent Stater, President Lester Lefton said the orientation classes should be interesting to students. The classes won’t be about “economic theory, but (rather) sex, drugs and rock and roll.”

“You don’t force people into an orientation they’re not interested in,” he said.

Contact academics reporter Kevin Kolus at [email protected].

Some pilot sections for Fall 2007 First Year Colloquium:

• Shop Till You Drop: Surviving in the Retail Jungle

• Understanding the World of Your Parents: American Popular Culture in the 1970s

• The Influence of Globalization on Careers in America

• Hidden Lessons on Gender: What the Other Sex Can Tell You about the College Experience

• Some Good, Some Bad, Some Ugly: Portrayals of Disabilities in the Cinema

• The Helping Hand: Personal Values and the Helping Professions

• Who Are You: What Will You Be as a Teacher

• History of Higher Education: Role of the University in American Life