New orientation model aims to improve retention

From late March to late August this year, students entering college for the first time will be introduced to Hudson Valley in a new format.

“This is the first year of a major shift for how we advise new students,” said Dennis Kennedy, director of communications and marketing. The new model, designed to improve student awareness and retention, replaces the orientation event held in August. Kennedy expects to hold 80 new student orientations between late March and late August.

Students receiving the new orientation model get a brief introduction to the college, receive their college IDs, tour the campus, learn about the college’s online resources, make their first semester schedule with a team of academic advisors, and discuss college goals.

This orientation, contrary to previous orientation events, is mandatory for all students going into their first year of college, excluding students in the nursing and dental hygiene programs, who still attend a department-based orientation.

The orientation in previous years was structured around a single date in which students and parents had the option to attend. According to the college’s Communications and Marketing department, only one third of new students received orientation last year.

Currently, the student events are held in the BTC meeting rooms, but they will be held on the third floor of Fitzgibbons next year. The new student orientation venue accompanies a centralized new student advisement process. Research shows that this type of model leads to higher retention rates.

“One of the biggest goals is to improve the college’s retention rates so more students stay in college, to give them the tools and information they need through this new advisement process, and to reduce the amount of times they need to come back to campus to achieve the enrollment steps,” said Kennedy about the new advisement process.

Students are also introduced to the Wellness Center and the Center for Careers and Transfer, which the college plans to open by this coming fall.

“Through putting its best foot forward at New Student Orientation, the college is poised to help incoming students feel welcome, get connected, and find their own path to success,” wrote Matthew Howe, coordinator for the office of testing, advisement and academic placement, in an e-mail.

Howe continued, “The new model is designed to increase students’ awareness of support services, teach how to navigate the college’s online resources, and assist with developing a first semester schedule.”

“If you were coming into the college now and getting ready to come into the fall, there’s students here who left with a schedule,” said Gayle Healy, director for the center for careers and employment, who coordinates orientation leader positions. “There’s a smaller group for each tour. It’s a great event for the new students.”

In early April, about 30 students are expected to attend the orientation sessions, and as the month progresses the orientation is expected to have groups of about 60 students.

The new student orientation also includes three separate orientations for parents, family members and other student supporters, with the first session on Apr. 11. The sessions introduce supporters to the college’s learning centers, the college success referral system, and tips and information relating to their student attending Hudson Valley.

The college has spent more than a year planning for the new student orientation. Kennedy said that the new student orientation was primarily lead by Carolyn Curtis, vice president for academic affairs, and Alexander Popovics,vice president for enrollment management and student development.

“The concept of coming to the college, receiving orientation, getting a tour, and leaving with a schedule is pretty nifty,” Popovics said.

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