Newest Rams get acclimated to the URI community

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KINGSTON, R.I. – June 24, 2011 – A student gets in her car – maybe with her parents by her side, maybe on her own for the first time – and drives somewhere completely foreign, unsure of what will lie ahead during the next two days, or really the next few years. She has reached a point in her life where she feels too old to be considered a child, but too young to be thrown into the adult world. But somehow, amid anxieties and insecurities, she feels a sense of comfort in the excitement of a new start – the freshness of freshman orientation at the University of Rhode Island.

More than 3,000 students will come through URI’s seven freshman orientation sessions this month with a variety of goals and expectations. The basic purpose of orientation is to register students for classes and familiarize them with some of the academic and social resources at URI.

Perhaps the best lessons students learn, however, are the ones that are not as structured – meeting new people, getting a sense of daily college life, and making the transition from living with all the securities of home to living in an entirely new world.

The orientation team uses a variety of methods to help incoming freshmen and their families feel at ease in this new environment, including a welcome presentation with speeches from Jayne Richmond, dean of University College and Special Academic Programs, and Donald H. DeHayes, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, followed by a fun musical.

The play uses humor and song to depict common concerns of even the most confident students: finding classes, choosing a major, feeling homesick, getting involved, and making friends. Students and parents alike were smiling and laughing throughout the performance, expressing sighs of relief after realizing that their insecurities are perfectly normal.

Incoming freshman Kimberly Kuczik, a communicative disorders major from Saddle Brook, N.J., said that the orientation leaders’ upbeat personalities were reassuring, describing them as “a little goofy, but in a good way.”

Another well-liked component of orientation was the “Opening Minds, Opening Doors” diversity awareness workshop, during which students shared their thoughts and opinions. Marine biology major Daniel Kaplan of Miami, Fla. said that this session was his favorite part of orientation, and that the array of activities made orientation better than what he had expected.

URI realizes that this is a monumental milestone for students, as well as those closest to them, which is why the university offers a family orientation program alongside the student sessions. Parents are encouraged to participate in presentations regarding academics, residential life, campus involvement, financial information, and accepting that their children are now young adults.

Jim and Adrian McClafferty of Stamford, Conn., are just two parents who chose to attend family orientation. They left “incredibly impressed” with the organization of orientation, mentioning that each session covered everything they wanted to know.

“He’s in good hands,” the couple said of their son, John, an accounting major.

Some might consider URI a large university, but students and parents soon learn that the personal connections to the faculty and staff and the sense of belonging make the campus seem much smaller and more comfortable. The orientation team, deans, advisors, professors, and fellow students are all here to help one another and make the college transition a smooth one for freshmen.

Pictured above

RHODY READY: Kaylena Fonseca, a psychology major from East Providence, R.I., poses for her student identification card photo.

BREAK A LEG: Orientation leaders perform a play depicting the many different people and activities present in college life.

NATIONAL AMUSEMENT: New students enjoy the welcome musical starring their orientation leaders.

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photos by Michael Salerno Photography.