Inside Rensselaer
Photos by Kris Qua and Daria Robbins

Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond

Program helps first-year students make the move from high school to college

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 life. But, it doesn’t have to be that way, according to staffers in the Office of the First-Year Experience. Since 2001, Rensselaer has been welcoming first-year students to campus with a weeklong program of 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, dean of the Office of the First-Year Experience. “As a student, you’re thinking about moving into your residence hall, meeting your roommates, wondering what your first day of class will be like, and so much more. In addition, for most of our students, this would be the first time that they are living away from home for a period of time.”

Fayette noted that, in 2008, the first-to-second-year retention rate for Rensselaer undergraduate students reached a new plateau of 95 percent.

From August 23-29, Rensselaer officially welcomed members of the Class of 2015 and introduced them to the local community through a weeklong series of NRB events. More than 100 activities organized by staff, departments, and student clubs were offered. Some highlights of the week included: overnight trips to the Adirondacks in upstate New York and Camp Chingachgook in Lake George; volunteer opportunities with local organizations such as the Susan Odell Taylor School and Habitat for Humanity; creating a mural to support the Troy Alley Action Project; learning about Rensselaer traditions; and interacting with a number of student clubs, including musical and dance groups, the RPI Players, Terra Café, Formula Hybrid, RPI Ambulance, Rensselaer Crew team, the RPI Rugby Football club, the Rensselaer Aeronautical Federation, and others.

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. Then they headed down the Approach to Blitman Commons, for the annual Welcome Fest, a free communiversity celebration featuring live entertainment, arts, and crafts. The NRB activities culminated with the First-Year Convocation, which was postponed one day due to the effects of Hurricane Irene. The ceremony, hosted by the Office of University Events, featured remarks from Anna Dyson, professor in the School of Architecture and director of the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology, along with a viewing of a video compilation of the week’s activities.

The NRB program was supported by more than 400 student, faculty, and staff volunteers.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 13, September 9, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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