Academic libraries have an annual opportunity to better orient new students.
Many universities and colleges coordinate Weeks of Welcome (WoW) programming for the first several weeks of classes in order to better orient new students to campus.
At the University of Dayton (Ohio), WoW is a three-week orientation experience designed to make it easier for students to find activities that will enhance their first year of college. The schedule focuses on campus academics as well as social connections, wellness, creativity and cultural arts. Other items on the schedule may include retreats for students, Family Weekend and activities in the surrounding community.
Campus units are invited each year to organize special Weeks of Welcome events. In 2014, my library (Roesch Library at the University of Dayton) participated with a series of programs titled “Tuesdays with Roesch,” including a game night, a trivia night and a heritage bracelet-making workshop. The game night was the most popular and well-attended because we reached out to the campus gaming club to come use our newly renovated classroom space, the Collab.
In the tradition of the friendship bracelet, we offered the opportunity to create heritage bracelets to promote the varied heritage of our campus community. We provide instruction and patterns, work space and embroidery floss in a wide range of colors. Students could create bracelets based on their cultural heritage, favorite sports teams or anything else they liked.
This year, we’re planning two events. The Friday morning of the first week of classes, we are offering free doughnuts and high fives. Doughnuts will come from Bill’s Donut Shop in Centerville, Ohio, which recently received recognition as one of the top doughnut shops in the United States; high fives will be offered by student employees and library staff.
Toward the end of WoW programming, we’ll lead a walk through our neighboring cemetery and visit the graves of famous people. We thought people might like an activity event (gotta get those steps in!), and we wanted to encourage new students to explore outside of campus.
A benefit of participating is that the New Student Programs office helps us promote our events. Once your library programs are part of a campus-wide initiative, it shows up on all the activity calendars, increasing visibility and participation.
Check to see if your campus offers a WoW program lineup, and ask how you might be part of it. The general guidelines for WoW ensure a mix of both educational and entertaining events designed to help new students get acquainted with the university community and the surrounding area. First-year students are encouraged to attend as many WoW events as possible to meet new people and learn more about services, programs and resources available.