Less Paper, More Programs Enhance CUA Orientation

Catholic University’s award-winning orientation program has been streamlined and enhanced to help ease the transition to campus life for first-year students.

This year, new students are able to skip the paperwork and register online for Orientation 2000, August 24-27. They also will spend less time filling out forms once they arrive. Orientation staff members will be able to enter newcomer information directly into the main student database during check-in time to keep lines of students moving quickly and efficiently on that busy first day.

Technology is helping in other ways, noted Cindy Mauris, director of Campus Programs. "This year students can register for the Reader’s Program, the Orientation program and their families can even make hotel reservations directly online," she said.

Those services are available at: http://campusprograms.cua.edu/orient/

Traditional avenues for registration are still available for students who are more comfortable with paper forms and in-person visits to campus offices, she noted.

While efficiency has been a primary goal for this year’s introduction to campus life, organizers hope the spirit of Orientation 2000 is embodied by this year's logo: a series of footprints. The symbol recognizes that college is a new journey for students and their families.

"I chose the footprint because I felt as humanity is walking into a new millennium, we’re also helping families to walk into a new time in their lives, a new phase of life," said Danielle Szelag, student coordinator for Orientation 2000

On the second day of orientation, undergraduate students can attend a "Breakout Reception," a gathering after Mass providing students with the opportunity to mingle and speak to different campus representatives.

This year students will have an easier time finding peers from their hometowns and states. Various signs indicating regions students may hail from will be posted at the reception to help form a "community base," or common bond between new students, said Ms. Szelag.

Graduate students will be offered an orientation session that features a new hour-long Power Point "tour" designed to answer frequently asked questions about campus services and programs. Dates and times for individual school and department orientations will be linked to a central point on the graduate student site.

Another addition to this year’s program includes an informational session on depression. It is designed to help parents and students identify the warning signs of a common affliction that is appearing more frequently among college-age students.

Rachelle Ryan, a parent orientation advisor and former residential assistant in the CUA dorms, suggested the session after learning how many college freshmen, particularly women, are afflicted with chronic depression. Depression strikes 17 million American adults each year, more than cancer, AIDS, or coronary heart disease, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

"This program is mostly for parents to make them aware of the signs," said Ms. Szelag. "This way they can educate themselves and their children."

Depression can be a very subtle element in the adjustment of being away from home for the first time, Ms. Szelag said. The disruption is enough to prevent students from getting homework done and meeting new people.

Catholic University’s student orientations have received top honors from the National Orientation Directors Association. In the past decade, CUA won first place for "Best T-Shirt," second place for "Best of Show" and third place for "Outstanding Use of Theme."