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Saturday, Aug 30, 2014

A Few Clouds, 80 °F

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BSO-Alden Library

Hayley Trachtenberg and Bill BcAtee Jr., who are incoming students majoring in theater, select popsicles during their BSO tour on the second floor of the Vernon R. Alden Library.

Photographer: Tyler Stabile/Ohio University Libraries

BSO-David Descutner

David Descutner, dean of University College and vice provost of undergraduate education, welcomes members of the Class of 2018 to Bobcat Student Orientation.

Photographer: Ben Siegel/Ohio University

BSO-Nelson Dining Hall

From left, incoming Bobcats Blake Taylor, Riley Jacobs and Emily Hinton eat lunch together at Nelson Dining Hall during Bobcat Student Orientation.

Photographer: Ben Siegel/Ohio University

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New Bobcats take the first steps in their OHIO journey at BSO


The Bobcat family tree is about to get a little bit fuller, and in anticipation of the Class of 2018’s arrival the Ohio University community has rolled out the welcome mat for this year’s Bobcat Student Orientation (BSO).

BSO kicked off on June 4 and continues through June 26, bringing more than 4,000 new Bobcats and more than 5,600 parents and guests to the Athens Campus.

OHIO’s one-and-a-half-day BSO sessions are jam-packed with programs and activities designed to familiarize incoming Bobcats with their new home away from home and to help them prepare for fall semester, both academically and socially. In addition to scheduled activities – like obtaining a University ID, meeting with academic advisers and registering for classes – the newest members of the Bobcat Family and their guests are also exposed to the Ohio University culture during BSO – touring the Athens Campus, getting familiar with OHIO jargon, and learning the “OU, Oh yeah” chant.

Transitioning from high school to college is a major milestone for families, and OHIO’s incoming students and their loved ones are coming to BSO filled with hopes and expectations.
For incoming first-year student Olivia Art, making connections on campus was her No. 1 priority for BSO.

“I’m most looking forward to meeting new people and getting to know people in my major,” Art, a Fairfield, Ohio resident who is majoring in pre-physical therapy, said.

Cathy Smith of New Jersey was attending last Monday’s BSO session with her son, Bill, who will be enrolled in OHIO’s University College.

“I look forward to seeing my son settle into a learning community and registering for class,” Smith said. “I hope he takes advantage of all the opportunities here and realizes how important it is to get involved and make connections with his fellow students and the faculty.”

Michelle and Steven Davis of Akron came to BSO with their daughter, MyAhna, who will be majoring in psychology.

“I hope she meets a couple of people that she can develop friendships with,” Michelle Davis said. “I also hope orientation alleviates any of the anxiety she may be feeling about starting college.”

At OHIO, it’s all about student success

BSO includes a healthy mix of educational and social opportunities, including several sessions that the University considers essential to a student’s success.

“This is a campus that takes as its No. 1 priority undergraduate education and specifically the academic success and personal development of undergraduate students,” David Descutner, dean of University College and vice provost of undergraduate education, said in welcoming members of the Class of 2018 at last Monday’s BSO. “We want to educate the whole student.”

Decutner spoke of his nearly 35 years of service to OHIO and what attracted him to the University and also shared with the students his journey as an undergraduate at Slippery Rock University, where, he said, “I made every single mistake a first-year student can make.”

Like most BSO sessions, Descutner also took the opportunity to offer incoming Bobcats some advice, including:

  • Don’t be passive. Be active and take responsibility for your own success.
  • Get involved in campus life.
  • Go to every class, get to know your professors, and get help when you need it.

Descutner’s welcome was followed by a BSO session titled “Academic Success and Learning Communities” and led by Wendy Merb-Brown, director of OHIO’s Learning Community Programs.

“We want you to start off on the right foot,” Merb-Brown explained, noting that students have the rest of the summer to prepare themselves for the academic rigors of college.

During the interactive session, students were asked to answer via electronic devices a number of questions related to student success, including how many hours a week they studied during high school and how many hours a week they expected to study as OHIO Bobcats. Merb-Brown pointed out that successful OHIO students generally study two hours outside of the classroom for every hour spent inside the classroom.

Following each question, Merb-Brown shared with the students research on the question asked and how the particular topic being discussed can affect student success rates. Among the topics discussed were the role students’ friends play in determining academic success, how to manage stress, developing healthy study skills and habits, handling roommate issues, and the effects alcohol and drugs have on a student’s academic success.

Merb-Brown included her own tips for academic success:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Take advantage of faculty office hours.
  • Attend your classes.
  • Participate in a learning community.

In addition to providing students with the resources and support needed for academic success, Ohio University is also committed to ensuring its students conduct themselves appropriately, develop leadership skills, and get involved in both the OHIO and Athens communities.

For that reason, part of the first night of BSO is dedicated to a session called “Expectations and Opportunities.”

The “Expectations” part of the program is led by Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones who talks about what it means to be a Bobcat, starting with the University’s five core values – commitment, citizenship, character, civility and community. She challenged members of the Class of 2018 to spend some time over the summer thinking about how they are going to make Ohio University a better place and reminded them that, “You are a Bobcat no matter where you are,” including in cyberspace.

Her words of wisdom to students:

  • Bobcats always treat each other with respect.
  • Get out of the Ohio University bubble and explore the greater Athens community.
  • Bobcats take care of each other.

Hall-Jones then delved into a very serious portion of her presentation that is often referred to by the Division of Student Affairs as “the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll speech.”

She spoke about the Bobcat Family having a “see something, say something” mentality, in which members of the OHIO community look out for one another and intervene when someone is in danger.

During her presentation, she shared with the students OHIO’s community standards when it comes to sexual misconduct as well as alcohol and drugs.

“We are currently having a national conversation about sexual assault on college campuses,” she said before sharing with incoming students and their guests how OHIO defines the varying levels of sexual misconduct and assault and the consequences of such behavior.

Hall-Jones also touched on the perception that Ohio University is a party school – an image, she reminded students, that not only devalues Bobcats’ college degrees but also feeds into the misperception that OHIO students who violate the University’s Code of Conduct won’t be held accountable.

“Our philosophy is educational discipline. We understand you are going to make mistakes, but we don’t want you to make them again and we want you to learn from your mistakes,” she said, reminding students that OHIO does have a two-strikes-and-you’re-out policy.

The floor was then turned over to Assistant Dean of Students Jamie Patton who led the “Opportunities” portion of the presentation.

“We want you to explore, engage and excel while you are here,” Patton told the Class of 2018.

He encouraged OHIO’s newest Bobcats to seek out faculty mentors, to participate in student engagement opportunities and explore some of the more than 500 student organizations on campus, and to become a part of the myriad academic engagement opportunities.

Patton also touched on the amount of studying students should be doing every week, calculating that a student who is taking 15 credit hours should be studying an additional 40 hours per week. When you factor in sleeping and eating, he said, most students will still find themselves with about 33 hours per week to do whatever they want.

“I encourage you to look at academics like your work, and your grade is your pay,” Patton said. “What you do with that extra 33 hours will either maximize or minimize how well you do at Ohio University.”

A transformation begins at BSO

While the Class of 2018 won’t officially begin its OHIO journey until being inducted into the Ohio University family during the President’s Convocation for First-Year Students on Aug. 24, BSO marks incoming students’ first opportunity to interact with each other and illustrates what a difference a day can make.

The early morning sessions during the first day of BSO tend to find students glued to their electronic devices, staying close to their loved ones, too shy to answer questions, and generally not interacting with their peers. By the time the students are settling in for the “Expectations and Opportunities” session, much of that has changed. Most students still can’t resist the opportunity to take to their electronic devices, but they’ve ventured away from those familiar to them, instead sitting with their newfound OHIO friends and making plans to stay in touch over the summer and reconnect on campus come fall semester.

Such was the case with four incoming Bobcats who have all either committed to or are considering majoring in engineering. Hailing from three states, the four young men – Jason Brent of North Olmsted, Ohio; Will Greskovich of Reisterstown, Md.; Kevin LaDelfa of Pittsford, N.Y.; and Bobby Vera of Fostoria, Ohio – got to know each other during small group sessions the first morning of BSO and were seated together that evening.

“What I was looking forward to the most at BSO is meeting new people,” said Brent.

Incoming Bobcats Riley Jacobs and Emily Hinton both said meeting new people and getting to know their classmates was a top priority for them at BSO. Despite hailing from opposite sides of Ohio – Jacobs from Dayton and Hinton from New Matamoras – the two, who will be majoring in athletic training, connected at BSO and look forward to staying in touch over the summer.

And OHIO’s new Bobcats aren’t the only ones settling into this period of transition during BSO – so are their parents and loved ones.

Jennifer Condelli of Mayfield Heights, Ohio, brought her first child, Megan Ruth, to OHIO’s BSO.

“I was in tears this morning,” Condelli said, “but the information that was provided today has been right on, and I know she’s going to a good place.”

New Bobcats share thoughts on OHIO, BSO

What made you choose Ohio University?

“I heard about the University, saw the ‘it’s you’ commercials, read all the mailings, and when I visited, I fell in love with the campus. And it has a good pre-physical therapy program.”

Olivia Art of Fairfield, Ohio, pre-physical therapy major

“I have friends who go here, so I’ve visited campus several times, including for Sibs Weekend. When I toured other universities, I always found myself comparing them to OU, so I really took that as a sign that this is where I’m supposed to be.”

Bri Lunsford of Cincinnati, Ohio, pre-nursing major

“I’ve always heard good things about Ohio University, and my favorite cousin and some family friends graduated from here. I heard it’s fun, and Athens seems very homey.”

Aaron McQuade of Pittsburgh, Pa., undecided engineering major

“A lot of my friends go here, and my mom went here and she loved it. Plus, the athletic trainer at my high school uses lots of teaching materials written by the director of OU’s athletic training program.”

Riley Jacobs of Dayton, Ohio, athletic training major

What have you enjoyed most about BSO?

“Getting to know the campus – it’s very nice.”

Kevin LaDelfa of Pittsford, N.Y., mechanical engineering or neuroscience major

“Getting to talk with everyone.”

Bobby Vera of Fostoria, Ohio, mechanical engineering major

“Getting lots of free T-shirts, and my orientation leader was great and really helpful.”

Bri Lunsford of Cincinnati, Ohio, pre-nursing major

“The campus has a great atmosphere. It’s been a good time.”

Emily Hinton of New Metamoras, Ohio, athletic training major

Bobcat families share thoughts on OHIO, BSO

What made your son or daughter choose Ohio University?

“We heard lots of good things about the University, but we still weren’t completely sure until we visited the campus about a month ago and we all fell in love with it.”

Steven Davis of Akron whose daughter, MyAhna, will be majoring in psychology

“We toured the campus with a family friend who graduated in May in engineering. It was a personal tour and we gained a lot of insight into the University, which tipped the scale. … This campus just feels like a village and there’s a feeling of comfort in that.”

Tina and Ed McQuade of Pittsburgh, Pa., whose son, Aaron, is an undecided engineering major

“It just felt like home here. We visited a bunch of campuses, and my daughter said she had the same feeling on this campus as she did when she walked into her high school for the first time. We visited this campus three times, and each visit just reinforced the fact that she is supposed to be here.”

Jennifer Condelli of Mayfield Heights, Ohio, whose daughter Megan Ruth is majoring in civil engineering

What have you enjoyed most about BSO?

“It’s kind of nostalgic and makes you think about your college days and all the fun. The orientation program has been very organized, and I’m really impressed. I also enjoyed learning about the learning communities, which I think is a great concept that not only helps with retention but also helps relieve any worries these kids might have about meeting new people.”

Pam Victoria of Lakeside Park, Ky., whose daughter Rachael will be enrolled in OHIO’s University College

“We’re leaving Bobcat Student Orientation feeling really comfortable about his and our decision to attend Ohio University and feeling good about what’s to come.”

Tina McQuade of Pittsburgh, Pa., whose son, Aaron, is an undecided engineering major

“I love the campus and am having a great time with my daughter and watching her interact with everybody.”

Jennifer Condelli of Mayfield Heights, Ohio, whose daughter Megan Ruth is majoring in civil engineering

In addition to a college degree, what do you hope your son or daughter takes away from the Ohio University experience?

“Just the whole experience of learning to live on his own, to make new friends, and to realize that there’s a big world out there. His time at Ohio University will be as much about personal development as it is about getting an education.”

Cathy Smith of New Jersey whose son, Bill, is enrolled in OHIO’s University College

“We hope he leaves here with a great network of friends who will spread out across the country, as well as mentors. And I hope he learns to call his mother two times a week!”

Tina and Ed McQuade of Pittsburgh, Pa., whose son, Aaron, is an undecided engineering major

“I hope she develops a sense of self and finds out who she’s destined to be – we know it’s something great!”

Michelle Davis of Akron whose daughter, MyAhna, will be majoring in psychology

“I hope she leaves Ohio University with more worldly views and is open to more people’s views.”

Pam Victoria of Lakeside Park, Ky., whose daughter Rachael will be enrolled in OHIO’s University College

“I want her to make lifelong friends, to grow as a person, to become more independent, and to make her mark on the world. I want to see her spread her wings and fly.”

Jennifer Condelli of Mayfield Heights, Ohio, whose daughter Megan Ruth is majoring in civil engineering