In August, more than 1,100 first-year students made the trek to the Rensselaer campus, armed with their belongings and supplies to embark on the next phase of their life living on a college campus. Starting classes, meeting peers, and exploring a new geographical area all at once may seem intimidating for many first-year students making the transition to college/campus life. But it doesn’t have to be that way at least that’s what staffers in Rensselaer’s Office of the First-Year Experience (FYE) believe.
Since 2001, the Institute has been welcoming first-year students to campus early to allow them to participate in a weeklong program of more than 100 welcome events and team-building activities known as “Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond (NRB).
“When students arrive on campus, and especially in a new environment, it can be intimidating,” said Janelle Fayette, acting dean of FYE. “We want to make the students’ transition to college life comfortable, and provide them with an opportunity to establish relationships and interests that may well continue beyond their first year. The ‘beyond’ in our program’s name represents the idea that freshman orientation does not end after classes begin. Our office continues to offer a variety of programs throughout the year to further support a seamless transition for our newest Rensselaer students.”
Some highlights of the week included: overnight trips to the Adirondacks in upstate New York; volunteer opportunities with local organizations such as the YMCA, Susan Odell Taylor School, and Habitat for Humanity; creating a mural on the Rensselaer campus; and interacting with a number of student clubs, including musical and dance groups, martial arts, the RPI Players, Terra Café, Formula Hybrid, RPI Ambulance, Alpha Phi Omega, and the Women’s Mentor Program, to name a few.
Members of the incoming class also participated in the annual greeting at the 8th Street Approach, where President Jackson greeted and shook hands with each member of the class as they headed to downtown Troy. Rensselaer students, faculty, staff, and members of the Troy community also attended the annual Welcome Fest, a free communiversity celebration featuring live entertainment, arts, and crafts.
The week’s activities culminated with the First-Year Convocation. The ceremony, hosted by the Office of University Events, featured remarks from Robert Hull, the Henry Burlage Jr. Professor of Engineering and head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, along with a viewing of a video compilation of the week’s activities.
The NRB program is supported by more than 370 student, faculty, and staff volunteers. Additional Rensselaer groups involved in the programs included Residence Life, the Rensselaer Union, Undergraduate Education, the Student Health Center, Career Development Center, DotCIO, EMPAC, Alumni Relations, and numerous academic departments.
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