Goshen College’s welcome team was proud to introduce the second year of a week-long extended orientation to the fall 2022 student cohort. 

New students checked in on Aug. 21 to meet peers, attend sessions with professors, participate in activities and meet with their ICC (Identity, Culture, and Community) classes.

Adela Hufford, director of orientation, transition and retention, said that the goal is to “acclimate new students to campus ahead of returning students” while giving them “some sense of confidence before the school year begins.”

Based on student, faculty and staff feedback, Hufford and other orientation members integrate changes to ensure each orientation is better than the previous.

Some of the changes this year included longer lunch breaks and more interactive activities than lectures. Students also used an app rather than paper schedules to get to activities on time.

Hufford also mentioned the pandemic, noting how vast the changes have been from fall 2020 and 2021 to this cohort.

“We’re still in the pandemic,” she said. “But, there’s a distinct difference…I think part of that is the socialization and the idea of students getting to be students and education being delivered differently.”

Kennedy Stewart, a first-year elementary education major with a minor in TESOL, felt this shift.

“I think it’s been a pretty good transition,” said Stewart. “I loved having that planned schedule…the app was a great resource. I loved going to Merry Lea.”

She also recalled how Goshen College was in her top three choices. During welcome weekend and orientation, she felt a strong sense of belonging, confirming her ultimate decision.

 “When you stay a week with a current student, that was the moment,” Stewart said. “I didn’t know what it was. I fell asleep that night and didn’t even think about it…I felt comfortable.”

As for enrollment, the final number of first-year students attending Goshen College will be announced later this month.

“We had a good year,” said Steve Wolma, the VP for enrollment management who oversees financial aid and admissions, “It was very close to our enrollment goals for the undergraduate side in 2020.”

Wolma also discussed how Goshen College is set to become an HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution). To fall under this category, an organization must maintain a 25% Latin-X student population for at least three years.

“We have done that,” he said. “At this point, we’re just waiting one more year for it to take effect.”

Goshen College is not an HSI yet, but Wolma says: “The organization that grants that status has recognized that we are in process and that we soon will be.”

Although orientation helps first-year students kickstart the year, Hufford emphasized the importance of all students taking advantage of college resources.

“I am always a proponent for students getting involved,” she said. “For commuter students, we have the commuter student association…This year, a new offering for transfer students is the transfer club.”

Hufford also explained that the Academic Success Center is a great tool that assists struggling students and is equipped with coaches happy to meet them one-on-one. 

“If I could change something for students,” she said. “It would be the stigma of asking for help — that [it] would just be the norm.”