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I. Orientation Activities

Since we have discovered that "beginnings matter" at Princeton more than they may on some other campuses, we believe that closer attention to what happens in Orientation would help many students launch their lives at Princeton more confidently.

A number of important activities take place during Orientation that provide students with essential information about the University. Our suggestions are designed to supplement these activities rather than replace them. This may require a slight expansion of the time devoted to Orientation, but our primary suggestion is that Princeton rethink the way the program is planned and implemented.

  • We recommend that Orientation at Princeton be reorganized to include more participation by upperclass students, both in planning and implementation, and that along with the essential information provided to first-year students, emphasis also be given to building connections between first-year students and other members of the community.
  • Improving and highlighting resources available to admitted students in the months before they matriculate can increase the value of Orientation activities and prepare students more fully for their Princeton experience.
  • The websites for the entering classes could be redesigned, with significant student input, to be more useful and inviting. This site could highlight student leaders and the many leadership opportunities available to incoming students.
  • A central goal of Orientation should be laying foundations for meaningful relationships for first-year students with upperclassmen and faculty, rather than simply acclimating them to Princeton.
  • We suggest implementing a student leadership planning structure similar to those of interviewed universities; the goal is to involve students in both planning and implementing Orientation activities.
  • More explicit emphasis on interactive student activities and networking could help first-year students understand that they can make their own mark in the Princeton community.
  • We recommend that Orientation planning include specific attention to preparation for leadership on campus, for both men and women.
  • Orientation could include either an open "reflections on leadership" workshop followed by a networking event with all current student leaders and first-year students, or one geared toward female students.
  • There are several gatherings of the entire class of first-year students during Orientation. We suggest that one of these include significant attention to coeducation at Princeton and to leadership opportunities for all students.
  • We recommend a "Re-Orientation" session after fall break to build on the Orientation activities and include first-year students in the planning and implementation.
  • Offering more continuous coordinated online resources to provide answers to first-year students following Orientation could extend the usefulness of Orientation activities.
  • A Re-Orientation session after fall break could allow for reflection and meaningful question-and-answer sessions with upperclassmen and faculty.
  • First-year students should be included in the planning process.
  • A women's leadership workshop with a networking event could form part of this session, and also perhaps a men's leadership workshop.
  • Roundtable discussions could be held over dinner with academic advisers, peer advisers, graduate students, and other mentors.
  • A set of open houses like those offered during Orientation could be held, with the attempt to minimize overlap in scheduling.