CHSS brings 'all hands on deck' to welcome incoming students at Summer Orientation

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
students walking in front of Library

Orientation is a critical time to fully engage with and support our first-time first-year arrivals as well as our transfer students, according to the National Orientation Directors Association. Well supported and staffed orientation programming has a positive impact on retention data and optimizes a sense of belonging for incoming students. Best practices tell us that an “all hands on deck” approach to engaging as many advisors and faculty in the orientation process is very important and worth the time and energy.

The College of Health & Social Sciences embraced that approach wholeheartedly at the 2019 Summer Orientation. For 12 days in June, 10 CHSS faculty served as faculty ambassadors, partnering with our advisors and the University Advising Center to help with the registration process. Many thanks to faculty ambassadors Jimmy Bagley (Kinesiology), Christopher Carrington (Sociology/Sexuality Studies), Carina Gallo (Criminal Justice Studies), Rick Harvey (Holistic Health Studies), Charmayne Hughes (Kinesiology), Carole Kulik (Nursing), Anthony Mayo (Kinesiology), Elaine Musselman (Nursing), Mandy Ross (Kinesiology) and Dave Walsh (Kinesiology). Thanks as well to our professional advisors who staffed orientations: Amie Brady, PaHoua Lee, June Parra, Sander Salguero and Dave Woo

College orientation workshopCHSS also stepped up its game at Orientation by hosting a new college welcome workshop as a pilot project for 15 days in July. Along with the Assistant Dean for Student Success Susanna Jones, five faculty members (known as Faculty Orientation Fellows) ran 30 workshops for our newest arrivals, serving more than 600 first-year students plus more than 150 parents, friends and loved ones. The purpose of the workshop was to welcome first-year students into the College by offering a glimpse into the services and resources that CHSS has to offer. A main objective was to help students understand the value of seeking help, to counter negative messages they may have received from their parents, teachers or others telling them that seeking help is a sign of weakness or failure. The participating faculty members were Elif Balin (Counseling), Pavlína Látková (Recreation, Parks & Tourism), Aritree Samanta (PACE/Environmental Studies), Paige Viren (Recreation, Parks & Tourism) and Dave Walsh (Kinesiology).

The College’s efforts to enrich the Orientation experience appear to have succeeded: Recently SF State’s Office of Institutional Research shared post-orientation survey results that showed greater than average satisfaction among CHSS students with many aspects of Orientation. A greater percentage of our college’s students indicated that they felt like they made new friends at Orientation (75% CHSS vs. 54% university average), that they had enough time with an academic advisor (68% CHSS vs. 55% average) and that they learned about resources for adjusting to college life (87% CHSS vs. 74% average). In addition, a greater percentage of CHSS students indicated satisfaction with the academic advising experience at Orientation (88% CHSS vs. 77% average).

Faculty Orientation Fellows enjoy collaborating with colleagues, connecting with students

Students weren’t the only ones who benefited from the College’s activities; CHSS faculty members who participated in Orientation also reported that the experience was valuable for them. Some of the Faculty Orientation Fellows shared their thoughts in writing:

Elif Balin“My experience as a faculty fellow was both energizing and inspiring. I'm relatively new at SF State and in the Bay Area. I still learn a lot about the diverse needs of college students from my graduate students who pursue counseling internship experiences at various college sites in the Bay Area. As a big step further, the CHSS orientation provided me a different immersion experience with college students. I had the opportunity to integrate not only my expertise and scholarship but also the insight and awareness that I have developed through my teaching and supervision experiences. It was a uniquely important reaffirmation of my passion and goals about supporting the career development of college students, especially with proactive and multiculturally competent strategies.”
— Elif Balin, Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling

Pavlina Latkova“What a rewarding experience…welcoming first time freshman to our college before they walk into their first class at SF State in late August 2019! The students we met may not see any of us in classes until their junior year, but, now they know we (CHSS faculty, staff, and administrators) are real people…approachable human beings with diverse backgrounds, yet, we all have experienced life transitions similar to theirs. CHSS first time freshman understand that while transition to a college life may be hard and challenging for most, they are not alone….and are not expected to do it all alone. … It was an honor to collaborate and socialize with my CHSS colleagues, whom I knew so little about prior to the CHSS first time freshman workshops…their stories of personal, academic, and professional journeys further inspired me to inspire others.”
— Pavlína Látková, Associate Professor, Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism

Aritree Samanta“Through this multifaceted experience I was able to connect with an enthusiastic batch of incoming students into various CHSS programs, get to know the college and its majors better, and work collaboratively with colleagues in other departments. Being relatively new to SF State, having started my current appointment in Fall 2018, I especially appreciated the opportunity to engage with the college community. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to conclude my first exciting year here at State.”
— Aritree Samanta, Assistant Professor, School of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement

“One of my favorite reasons for participating in collegewide and/or universitywide activities like the Faculty Orientation Fellows program is the chance to meet and work with colleagues outside of my home department.  …  Together we spent a few two-hour meetings putting together a 45 minutes presentation for first time freshman in our college. I appreciated how we all worked together, respecting each other’s professional and personal experiences that helped create the presentation. Together, we developed a presentation on how to best introduce freshman to our college. I co-conducted a total of 12 presentations. We approached the presentation and the students in own unique way while honoring the content we put together for our presentation.  I learned a lot about students’ excitement, concerns, stressors, and how they perceive this new life transition.”
— Dave Walsh, Professor, Department of Kinesiology