College transition made easy
DUBUQUE, IA –
Every college institution welcomes their first-year students a little differently. Some schools will offer open yoga classes or free food however, Loras College takes the first year welcome and raises it to another level with their four-day experience with first-year students.
“Loras’ launch into loras is best practice,” said Director of Intercultural Programs Sergio Perez. “We have all the different elements that allow for a student to have a good experience including a faculty member for them to get to know, a staff member whom can help a student navigate the college environment and a student peer who can show them how they adjusted to college. Everything about launch is intentional in aiding and improving a new student’s college experience.”
Students start this experience with move in, where hundreds of families are funneled into primarily Beckman hall over a few hours. There are a number of students who also move into other residence housing such as Binz or Rholman, but neither residence hall is a primary destination to first years.
“The move in on the first day was really smooth, it was very efficient and helpful to have all the sophomores and older people actually bring your stuff up,” said first-year Charles Holmes. “Because A – you’re finding your dorm since you really don’t know where it is and B – it’s a lot of stuff.”
After the students get settled, there is a welcome ceremony where the students, parents, faculty, and staff all take vows to reassure their best effort to the student’s success. This year, the Dean of Students Art Sunleaf led the vows along with his unique personality and relatable sense of humor.
After the ceremony, there was a welcome picnic where the families enjoyed their last meal with their child before saying their goodbyes. The waterworks dried up fairly quickly as the students we then put into their first class, “Engaging Differences.” Which lets the professors put their own spin on the course into what their field is, and how it applies to real world situations. After the first session is complete students are dismissed for the evening which concludes day one.
The next day, on Friday, first-years start out bright and early having breakfast at eight in the morning and then boarding busses at 9 where half of the class does community service at a variety of different locations while the other half enjoys a low-ropes-course where they dive deep into team bonding skills and relationships are made.
“I think the ropes course is super memorable,” said Perez. “Students are moving from a place of being more to themselves and opening up throughout the experience. People laugh, share anxiety, and really make the entire group come together.”
At noon the entire class gets together for lunch at the ropes course and then switches so everyone does community service and the ropes course activities. After that, students come back to campus and get cleaned up for dinner. There is then a movie night on the MARC Lawn and board games in the res hall after. That would then conclude day two.
Saturday, the students start with another class session and then take a class photo at noon. At this time other upper class students are on campus and are willing to recruit at Campus fest. This is an event to encourage first-year students to get involved through clubs and organizations.
“My favorite part about launch was [Campusfest]. Just stuff like that where you get to meet a lot people pretty fast. I think that’s what I like the most,” said Holmes
Before students go back to their rooms for the night, there is The Mentalist performed by Christopher Carter where he specializes in ‘freaking people out’. This show would then conclude day three.
Sunday, the students will meet again for another session of class and then are required to attend the Presidential Luncheon where they are fed lunch and are giving final advice by those who organized the entire weekend. To fully wrap up Launch into Loras, student watch a video of the last three days to reminisce on their experience over the past few days.