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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Opinion

Coog’s house inviting to new students


Hendrick Rosemond//The Daily Cougar

File photo/The Daily Cougar

Whether you started at UH as a freshman or entered as a transfer student, you’ve had to attend some kind of new student orientation. Though the orientation for freshman is different from transfer orientation, the experience I received at my UH orientation was better than the orientation I received at the University of Texas as a freshman.

UH’s freshman orientation seems to be more student-oriented than UT’s and better acclimates them to the campus.

From what I can remember about UT’s freshman orientation, students only got their IDs, took placement tests for classes, saw their advisers and then signed up for classes.

The advising portion at UT wasn’t all that great. They always seemed to be in a hurry and wanted you to be out of their office. At least, that was the impression I was given. They didn’t give bad advice, but it was apparent to me that the advisers at UT wanted you to graduate as quickly as possible, without taking into account if you had a disability or if you were part of organizations or if you had a life outside of school.

They didn’t care if you were having a hard time or not. It made you feel like just another statistic sitting in their office. Because I was ahead in my math credits, they recommended that I take junior and senior-level math classes as a freshman without regard for whether I personally could handle it. Boy, was that a mistake.

Every time I see my UH mathematics and arts advisers, they’re down-to-earth people who want you to succeed. The advisers here don’t give the impression that they are trying to get you to graduate faster than you should in order to get more students in and out. They legitimately want to help students succeed.

The other portions of UT’s orientation weren’t better than the advising. There were some seminars to attend at UT’s orientation, but they were voluntary. These seminars were about important student organizations, such as the Center for Students with Disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations, but because the seminars weren’t required, hardly anybody went to them.

UH’s New Student Orientation is different. The University started Cougar Carnival this summer, where instead of having boring seminars, freshmen participate in fun and games to “feel that they are able to reach out to student organizations,” said Tara Boyle, Director of New Student Conferences and Programs.

“We created the carnival format because students weren’t engaging with the organizations and vice versa,” Boyle said.

At Cougar Carnival, each organization proposes some type of game, which helps freshmen learn about the organizations. I wish I had participated in such fun, and it makes me think I should have gone to UH in the first place.

Instead of a one day orientation at UH, it’s a two-day event where students stay overnight. This gives the students more of a sense of unity and connection to the campus. Even students that won’t be living on campus will be given this chance to see what it’s like to stay on campus. The freshmen meet with their college the first day and then, on the second day, they see their academic advisers.

UH’s freshman orientation is “more integrated (because) the students learn about the campus environment, is more introductory than the transfer orientation and introduces all the various resources that students need,” Boyle said.

The orientation experience is a good indicator of what a campus is going to be like during the rest of your time there. Just as UT’s freshman orientation didn’t advertise their student organizations that well, the rest of the year, there weren’t too many advertised activities, either. As a result, I didn’t make many friends at UT and I stayed in my dinky dorm room most of the time. I felt alienated from the other students.

As I began my studies at UH, even as a transfer, I felt more welcome than I had at UT. I would get mass emails about student organizations and activities and even just passing through the campus, there would be so many student organizations out there at the beginning of the year trying to recruit new students. The friendly atmosphere is enough to make anyone feel welcome at the University.

Opinion columnist Callie Parrish is a math and arts senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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