November 28, 2022
overcast clouds Clouds 34 °F

Orientation reimagined for today’s students

Binghamton University welcomes students at Orientation, summer programs

First-year students meet with their Orientation advisors at Harpur Quad after the University Welcome. First-year students meet with their Orientation advisors at Harpur Quad after the University Welcome.
First-year students meet with their Orientation advisors at Harpur Quad after the University Welcome. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

For the first time in three years, Binghamton University is welcoming students to campus for in-person Orientation sessions and other summer programs. In one sense it’s a “return to normal,” but this year’s incoming first-year students also have the benefit of some exciting new features, as staff have implemented lessons learned during the pandemic, examined the evolving needs of our students and taken the opportunity to reimagine Orientation.

New programming for a changing world

Throughout the month of July over 3,100 students and their families are visiting campus for a two-day new student Orientation. In many ways the overnight experience will mirror those before the pandemic (in 2020 Orientation was held virtually and in 2021 it was primarily virtual with an optional New Student Connection Day).

During Orientation students participate in various sessions designed to help them acclimate to college life in general and Binghamton University specifically under the guidance of peer Orientation advisors (OAs). They stay overnight in a residence hall and have ample opportunity to make connections with their new classmates, as well as more seasoned students, faculty and various professional offices on campus.

“The goal of Orientation is to set students up for success in their first semester,” said Alyssa Cohen, assistant director of new student programs. “We want them to make connections with other new students, explore campus and learn helpful information for their first semester here at Binghamton.”

The biggest change from past years is that course registration now takes place virtually following a student’s Orientation session. This alleviates the stress students feel about getting into the classes they want during Orientation, so they can better immerse themselves in learning about their new home. During their virtual registration appointment, students have access to academic advisors who can assist them with questions or concerns.

New this year also are several changes to the session programming schedule. Historically state-mandated sessions on interpersonal violence and alcohol, tobacco and other drugs have taken place during Orientation. They have not been eliminated entirely, but will now take place once students arrive on campus for the new-student move-in and welcome program, which will take place Aug. 18–20. Some of the new Orientation sessions include:

  • Binghamton 101: Students receive tips and tricks from current students to help their first year go smoothly. They also learn about transitional stressors that can affect mental wellness and the resources available to support their mental health.
  • Legends of the Hidden Bearcat: Students work in small groups to solve a mystery around campus, visiting a variety of locations to collect pieces of Baxter the Bearcat and, ultimately, to collect a prize.
  • OA Tell All: In small groups, students compete in a Family Feud-style game show to learn about college myths — including imposter syndrome, drinking culture, conflict and more.
  • OA Small Group: Students learn about how to get involved on campus and sign up for a club or organization.
  • Financial Responsibility: Students learn from Student Accounts and Visions Federal Credit Union representatives about financial responsibility and literacy.
  • Jumpstart Your Success: Students hear from the Center for Civic Engagement, Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development, Success Coaching and First Year Experience to learn how these offices can support students in their first semester.
  • Capstone: Students reflect on their Orientation experience and discuss how to apply what they learned in their first semester.

“We’ve been extra intentional about what programming we’re delivering,” said Cohen. “Students have changed since 2019, so we’re trying to meet them where they’re at with fun and informative programs.”

Orientation sessions began on June 27 and will run through July 29. A final one-day session will be held Aug. 19 for those students who could not attend a previous session.

Other summer programs

In addition to traditional Orientation, Binghamton is abuzz with students participating in several other summer programs, which range from a week to a month long.

Binghamton Enrichment Program

Students admitted through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) are on campus for their summer Binghamton Enrichment Program (BEP) July 5–Aug. 5. EOP is a program that aims to enroll students meeting academic and financial guidelines, many of whom are first-generation college students. Throughout their time at Binghamton, EOP students have access to counselors, cultural events, tutoring and more.

The BEP prepares incoming EOP first-year students for the transition to and challenges of college-level academics and also orients them to campus and allows them to connect with peers who are or will be facing some of the same obstacles they may come across. BEP is a free program, providing housing, meals and the opportunity to complete eight course credits before the semester even begins.

TRIO Student Support Services summer program

The nationwide TRIO programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and represent a commitment from our nation to make higher education accessible for all Americans, regardless of race, ethnic background or economic circumstance. At Binghamton, Student Support Services (SSS) promotes academic success and personal growth for first-generation students, income-eligible students and students with disabilities. Eligible students are invited to join the SSS community, through which they can receive academic advising, career coaching and personal mentoring, in addition to free tutoring services, leadership development and assistance with obtaining financial aid.

SSS’s S4P summer program consists of one week (July 10–16) during which students can come to campus, make friends, meet faculty and staff, learn about campus resources and prepare for their regular Orientation, all while receiving free housing and meals. Following this on-campus week, students participate in preparatory online courses from home, keeping their academic skills sharp and receiving guidance on things like professional development, leadership and other essential skills for a successful college experience.

Upward Bound Summer Program

It’s not only incoming college students roaming campus this summer. Forty-five ninth–12th graders from 11 local high schools are also on campus July 5–Aug. 12 as part of another TRIO program, Upward Bound. These students come from low-income socioeconomic backgrounds and would be the first in their families to attend college. During the summer program, they live on campus in residence halls and take credit-bearing high school and college courses to prepare for the upcoming year or recover academically from the previous school year.

Students also participate in fun social activities and workshops, explore potential career pathways and tour campus facilities. The overall goal is to encourage these students to see themselves as future college students and become familiar with the environment, motivating them to achieve a high level of academic success throughout high school and into college.