When the Class of 2016 arrives on campus in just a few short weeks, it’s not just the incoming students who will be welcomed into the Fordham fold.
“We really hope that parents feel welcomed to this community that we truly feel is a family,” said Dorothy Wenzel, director of student leadership and community development at Lincoln Center.
“We’re not just wanting to meet your son or daughter, but also to meet you,” she said.
The whole campus rolls out the red carpet as new students arrive. Residential students will even get a little help unpacking from hundreds of enthusiastic orientation leaders.
“On Sunday, when you pull up with your car, we don’t want parents to be lifting things. We have orientation leaders who will make the process as painless as possible,” Wenzel said.
In the hustle, bustle, and emotional transition of those first few hours on campus, Beth Coyne, director of the transition year experience for the Rose Hill campus, said the programming for both students and parents is focused on introducing the resources available at Fordham and helping students find their way.
“New Student Orientation is really about getting your basic needs met—getting settled into the residence halls or connected with the commuter assistance programs, meeting your academic advisor, figuring out where to find your classes,” Coyne said.
The connection of the Fordham family is evident from day one. Each student, whether living on-campus or commuting, will be connected with a freshman mentor to help guide them through their on-campus experience and answer questions along the way.
Keith Eldredge, dean of students for Lincoln Center, said that while it’s impossible to cover every piece of information a student needs at orientation, the program will give students the tools to know where to look.
“A big piece of orientation is showing all the ways that we’re here to support and assist you. There’s no way students are going to be able to retain it all, but at least they know where to ask the question,” he said.
Eldredge said that while it can be difficult for parents to transition from the high school experience, where they are aware of every issue surrounding their son or daughter’s education, it is important to empower students in this new phase of their lives.
“We’re a very caring community, and students are more than a number here. But it really is about their independence and them seeking out the resources they need,” he said.
Sessions designed especially for parents are a key part of New Student Orientation. Christopher Rodgers, dean of students for Rose Hill, tells parents what to expect in their student’s freshman year, from academic stressors all the way through to mental health and the disciplinary process.
Rodgers said he shares with parents the mission of the disciplinary and judicial process—to care for students while holding each to high standards of personal conduct.
“We’re an institution in the Jesuit Catholic tradition. We have a commitment to training men and women who will serve the larger society after they leave,” Rodgers said. “Our standards are high.”
Both Wenzel and Coyne said that though some parents find it hard to break away from helping students unpack to attend the parent sessions, these are important moments for a couple of reasons.
“The parents sessions are filled with information to reassure the parents that your students are safe and will be OK,” Coyne said.
“It will also give the students a chance to settle in on their own, talk with their roommates a bit, and then meet up with their parents again before saying goodbye,” she said.
As parents process the emotional impact of sending their students off to college, Coyne said parents can rest assured that students are in a position to thrive.
“They are in good hands, and they will be well taken care of at Fordham,” Coyne said.
“We care very much for our students and are here to make sure they do their very best to succeed.”
By Jennifer Spencer