Improved Orientation swings along

BY KRISTEN BARON | JUNE 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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Future Hawkeyes will soon prepare to leave their nest but not without first learning how to fly.

Black and gold banners reading “Welcome Class of 2018” lined the University of Iowa campus as incoming freshmen and their parents attended a wide array of Orientation events.

While the basic structure of Orientation has not been changed drastically, improvements continue to be made each year.

“We change minor things to streamline the process,” said Jon Sexton, the director of UI Orientation Services. “They may seem minor to people who know the campus, but it can be a major problem for parents and incoming students.”

Each year, the UI receives feedback about Orientation from various groups, and that plays a key role in making changes. During the summer of 2013, many people said it was difficult to hear speakers during the numerous presentations.

This year, the sound sets were changed in order to fix the problem and ensure the best experience for everyone.

The UI has also pushed sustainability by saving paper and “being greener” during Orientation. Students are given USB lanyards — which has been upgraded from a USB bracelet — that contains information pertaining to the student handbook.

“Yeah, the lanyards make you stick out, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” said incoming freshman Brett Pierson of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, describing the black and gold Hawkeye lanyards with attached nametags.

Sexton said that so far, Orientation has been running smoothly despite some factors out of the UI’s control.

“Construction has created some logistical challenges,” he said. “It’s a sign of progress. We’re creating a better campus.”

With construction going on at several university and local sites, including the IMU and the Pentacrest, as well as in downtown Iowa City, Sexton said students and parents have had trouble navigating the city and campus.

Along with physical updates, the university created an app for those attending Orientation.

HawkTools, the smartphone app, was created to cut down on the amount of paper used. It contains key information including Orientation events, residence-hall information, and dining-hall locations and menus. The app also has the ability to program Orientation meetings into a phone’s calendar.

At the Orientation meetings, UI Dean of Students David Grady held off his introduction to say, “But first, let me take a selfie,” which has been posted on the his Twitter account.

In light of the UI’s budding social-media presence, these Orientation selfies have proven effective in engaging incoming students, Sexton said.

The consensus among incoming students is that Orientation has been going very well.

Many students, including Cameron Frieden of Walford, Iowa, and Brady Garden of Charles City, Iowa, are the most enthusiastic about meeting new people and attending sporting events in the fall.

Kevin and Dawn McKinley of Rock Falls, Iowa, enjoyed the separation of parent and student meetings during Orientation. Their son, who has visited many other college campuses, followed in his mother’s footsteps by choosing to attend the UI.

“It feels very collegiate,” Kevin McKinley said. “I like how everything is not so spread out.”

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