Soon after the newest members of the Rensselaer communitythe Class of 2005arrived on campus in August, they were packed onto buses and driven away.
Some students visited local arts institutions, while others walked along the Erie Canal. Some helped build a house with Habitat for Humanity, while others gave a face-lift to a historic area cemetery. Some new students put their musical and theatrical talents to work on a show, and others learned how to work as a team at one of two wilderness locations.
The events, called Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond, were part of a weeklong series designed to introduce these newcomers to campus, to each other, and to the surrounding community. The week included a variety of wilderness, cultural and historical, and community service activities for the students to choose among.
The welcome events made the transition from a small school setting to a larger setting much easier, says Kerrissa Lynch 05. They also helped me become acquainted with many of the other freshmen in our class. And I made friends that I would not have met through class.
All told, more than 1,100 students took part in the revamped orientation activities, which represent a major commitment of the Rensselaer Plan to the first-year experience. One of the highest priorities of the plan is enhancing the overall quality of life on campus and it expresses a commitment to the creation of experiential, residential, and recreational environments that help students bond with one another. More than 30 faculty and staff members also took part.
The events were organized by the new Office of the First Year Experience, which provides programming and support for new students through their first year at Rensselaer.