Behind the scenes of UTC’s orientation process

Luke Roberts, Chattanooga, Tenn. – College orientation at UTC is the start of the best four years of your life.

According to US.reachout.com, college orientation can be lot of fun, but it can also be a time of mixed emotions as you adjust to life away from home, make new friends and have new experiences.  Orientation is a great way to become involved and settle into your new life as a college student as well, which can definitely be true for many students planning to come to UTC orientation every semester.

From awkward beginnings to meeting the best friends of your life, UTC orientation is the beginning of the journey into adulthood and will provide you with academic success, personal growth, and you might even learn something about yourself along the way. Naturally, UTC orientation requires a lot of planning from college supervisors who do lots of hard work in order to make UTC students feel welcome.

Bradley Bell, a Knoxville, Tenn. native and the Assistant Director of New Student and Family Programs at UTC, does a lot to prepare for orientation throughout the year.

“Planning for orientation takes quite a bit of work,” Bell said. “From hiring and training the staff members, to connecting with the advisor to ensure class schedules are ready for students and just general planning and executing of the day, orientation has a lot of thought and assessments done to ensure the success of the program.”

Of course, UTC orientation is a large undertaking, as welcoming many students to the university via orientation requires a lot of planning in advance in order to have time for all the events students will take part in during the orientation programs.

“UTC New Mocs Orientation sees about twenty-three hundred incoming freshmen. Our program is a two-day program that allows students to become well acclimated with the university,” Bell explained. “There are many activities that incoming freshmen will do at orientation.

“They will get their Mocs card made, meet with faculty and staff members to discuss their classes and interact with several departments to gain key resources they need to know about the college. They will also meet new incoming students and develop a bond through different activities,” said Bell.

However, like every other college, UTC accepts transfer students as well.

“We also have a transfer student orientation.” said Bell. “Theirs is only a one-day orientation, and being that they already have a foundation for college, their process is a little more simplistic. They will get the opportunity to meet with their advisor to discuss their class schedule and have several sessions to gain key information about the university.”

As previously mentioned, UTC orientation requires a lot of planning and preparation long before orientation begins. This is especially true in regards to summer orientation.

“The planning and preparation process for summer orientation is pretty extensive,” said Bell.  “We have to meet with several departments to ensure that the information relayed to the students is accurate and relative to their transition to college.”

The orientation information has to not only be accurate, but it also has to be covered by several publications as well.

“We also have to get different publications created and printed prior to orientation, which requires a lot of meeting with departments,” said Bell. “Generally, we spend the spring semester gathering information for our publications. After about five rounds of edits, we finally get a finished product that will be used for each session.”

With all the preparation required for orientation, everyone is involved, from the students, advisors and even the directors.

“My director, Carrie Sherbesman, gets to interact with all the different academic departments and advisors,” said Bell. “She, along with the Center for Advisement, work together to educate students and parents about the students’ academic schedules and their journey here at UTC.”

The students get to meet with their advisors twice during orientation to discuss and finalize their class schedule,” Bell said, in regards to advisement. “They are able to make changes to their schedule if they would like after orientation as well.”

All of this preparation requires a lot of leaders being both hired and trained, too.

“The hiring process for orientation leaders begin really in October,” said Bell. “I roll out my market strategy and hit the ground running. We have interest meetings for students to attend. From then they come in for group interviews and then a one-on-one interview with me. It is an extensive process, but it is a fun one for sure.”

But the orientation experience is definitely a tough one, too.

When asked about the biggest challenge about being an orientation leader, Nathaniel Ortiz, a recent graduate from Clarksville, Tenn., said, “Staying charged up and making sure I am ready to go at every moment.”

In regards to training, Bell said, “We spend about 6 months training the orientation leaders. There training is what I call fifty/fifty training. It is fifty percent work focused training and fifty percent personal and leadership development. It’s kind of a different approach to training and developing a team. So far it has worked out better than I have imagined.”

In regards to being an orientation leader, Bell is very enthusiastic about his duties.

“Being an orientation leader is an awesome experience,” said Bell. “I was one during my undergraduate time here at UTC, and I met the best folks while being at orientation. Heck, I loved it so much, when I found out I could do this as a profession, I jumped right on it.”

Bell isn’t the only one enthusiastic about his job.

“Impact on the freshmen [is the best part of being an orientation leader]. It’s great to make an impact and watch them grow at UTC,” said Jasmine Liev, an Exercise Science major from Murfreesboro, Tenn.

It can be seen that orientation has many different elements. From preparing publications, to hiring and training the staff, orientation is an exciting and busy process all across UTC. The orientation program allows students to grow and become well acclimated to the campus. With the help of orientation leaders and other personnel, students are very well equipped to begin their lives at college.

Addie Whitlow

Addie Whitlow

Assistant Features Editor

Addie is a Chattanooga native majoring in Communication with a minor in English: Writing. If she isn’t reading or watching movies, some of her favorite pastimes include spending time on the lake, taking way too many photos of her dog, Ripley, chasing after sunsets, and eating pasta salad. To get in touch, email her atjzj659@mocs.utc.edu or tweet her at @mirage_hall.

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