Aug. 3, 2005
By Anita Martin
This summer, Ohio University hosts an event that lasts three and a half weeks, involves more than 250 people and draws more than 4,100 future students to the Athens campus. The occasion? None other than Ohio University's Precollege Orientation.
Fifteen Precollege sessions take place from July 25 to Aug. 13 this year, offering an introduction to university life for new students and parents and a lift for the local economy.
"The transition from high school to college is significant and life-changing for most young people," Dean of Students Terry Hogan said. "Precollege is intended to help students and their families to navigate the upcoming challenges."
Orientation planners aim to provide a complete overview of the first-year experience, while taking care of all administrative details so that students are primed for a successful first year.
During the sessions, students meet advisors, learn about University academics, resources and events, and register for fall classes. Meanwhile, parents attend an information session that addresses their questions and familiarizes them with Ohio University.
For Precollege Director Richard Linn, orientation is a full-time project. "Preparations have already begun for next year," Linn says. "When you start to add up the people involved, I don't know of anything that even comes close to it."
A collaboration of that scale demands flawlessness. "If one thing is off, it can overshadow everything that is good," Linn explains.
According to this year's Precollege participants, Linn and staff have delivered once again. "The program is very informative," says Jeff, a first-year student from Chagrin Falls. "It was all that I expected to encounter when I came down. I'm a lot more prepared now."
"This is an excellent program," agrees Laura Nygord, a parent from Painesville. "I feel like I can just drop her off and go!"
More than 4,100 incoming freshmen and their parents are attending this summer's Precollege sessions. That's good news for local merchants, who benefit from the mid-summer sales boost.
"Orientation promotes chamber businesses. We look at the new students as new community members as well as clients," says Dawn Worley-Sims, administrative assistant for the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. "We want them to know what's available for them in Athens."
Local businesses furnish mock residence hall rooms in Tiffin Hall for new students. Meanwhile, both the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce sponsor an information tent to promote Athens businesses and events.
"Precollege offers us an opportunity to welcome new students and parents to the area and to showcase all we have in the area," says Sally Dunker, director of the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Community-building outweighs other Precollege priorities for Linn. "Some people say this is all about meeting your advisor and setting up your schedule. But I think the bottom line is that Precollege brings students to a new place and gets them accustomed to the idea of being a part of the college, a part of the community-a contributing citizen to what is your home and mine."
Anita Martin is a summer intern with University Communications and Marketing.