Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Marshall Prepares for New Student Orientation

Marshalls+logo+stands+just+outside+the+oldest+building+on+campus%2C+Old+Main%2C+which+students+can+encounter+during+their+campus+tours+at+orientation.
Evan Green
Marshall’s logo stands just outside the oldest building on campus, Old Main, which students can encounter during their campus tours at orientation.

As new students prepare to join the Herd this fall, Marshall’s orientation leaders are preparing for their arrival at this summer’s orientation sessions. The orientations occur throughout June and July and are designed to equip incoming students with the tools they need for their first semester. 

“The things that we really want students to come away with, first and foremost, is getting them connected to the university,” said Lisa Williamson, Marshall’s director of orientation, outreach and special events.  “We want them to feel a connection with their orientation leader; we want them to connect with people throughout the day and kind of put them at ease once they meet their academic adviser and they go over their fall schedule. That’s what a lot of the students look most forward to.”

At orientation, students are placed into groups led by an orientation leader, and they rotate to different stations throughout the day to hear from various groups on campus. 

Students will rotate through four stations during their orientation: housing and dining, which is led by Sodexo, the group that manages Marshall’s on-campus dining, and Housing and Residence Life, which oversees the dorms; advising, which gives students a chance to meet with their academic adviser and learn about their fall schedule; information technology, where students will get a chance to learn about the technology at Marshall and Student Life, which walks attendees through the student organizations on campus.

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Between morning and afternoon sessions, a student resource fair is held to showcase the resources Marshall students have access to as students.  After the day’s programming, students and parents can receive a campus tour from orientation leaders, including a tour of the new Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation. 

In addition to the student programming, orientation also provides opportunities for parents and family members to learn more about Marshall’s services.

“A lot of parents do come. Some students will bring an older sibling, or some students might just bring a friend to go around with them,” Williamson said. “For parents and guests, we have a program in the morning. Once the students go on to start their rotations, we have a program called ‘Supporting Your Student,’ and that’s for our guests to kind of go through. We give them a lot of information, such as housing and dining, what things are like in the dorms and meal plans. The Bursar’s office talks to them for a little bit; financial aid explains some things with their award letters and scholarships.”

Parents are given several options to explore Marshall and Huntington in the afternoon, from campus tours and a tour of special collections in Morrow Library to meetings with a financial aid adviser. Parents are also given a bus ticket for the Green Machine, Marshall’s bus service, which can take them to Pullman Square in downtown Huntington to explore or shop. 

Before orientation, students are expected to complete their intent to enroll, contact housing about dorms, complete a placement survey and fill out their FAFSA. However, if they haven’t done so beforehand, students will have resources available on site to help them complete these tasks. 

Orientation may look different for students who are not traditional first-year freshmen living on campus. In the past, transfer students completed orientation alongside incoming freshmen, but this year marks the first year specific orientation dates have been set aside for this group of students.

These orientation sessions will be smaller, but Williamson hopes they will allow transfer students to connect with others in similar situations since all attendees will be transfer students.

For online-only students, orientation will be held through a self-paced Blackboard course students complete to help them learn important tools for completing their online education. 

Williamson and Brennan Amaral, the assistant director of campus experience, say the most exciting part of orientation for students is the reality they’re about to begin their college journeys, which provides them with a chance to glimpse into their futures at Marshall. 

This is the first year Williamson and Amaral are working with orientation, as the event shifted out of the Office of Recruitment in the past and is now being moved back to their office.

The recruitment office’s ability to reach out to prospective students before orientation through text messaging makes them uniquely suited to stay in contact with incoming students and avoid “summer melt,” a phenomenon in which students get lost in the summer transition from high school to college.

One change the office made for their first year running orientation was to provide more options for parents in the afternoon to explore campus and Huntington in different ways. 

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