The IC Welcome Wagon
From juggling a heavy workload to sharing a bathroom, the transition from high school to college can be jarring for any student. Those first-day-of-school butterflies don’t go away when you come to college either. That’s why Ithaca has so many special programs to help you feel at home, get over that initial fear and shyness, and jumpstart the next four years at IC. Here are just a few ways to get off to a great start.
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
IC Peers is the College’s social networking community for accepted students. The community is located in myIthaca, so you have to be a member to participate.
Here's a screenshot of the IC Peers home page:
IC Peers gives you a chance to interact with your fellow classmates, as well as faculty, staff, and current students. No questions are off-limits, and many students have made a large circle of friends to hang out with even before they step foot on campus.
For a few days in the summer you’ll have the chance to experience a trial run of life at IC. You’ll meet and mingle with the faculty and administrators of your school, learn about the many academic resources at IC, navigate the process of registering for classes, and attend an evening social.
Students are divided into small groups led by current students working as orientation leaders. "I think orientation is a great opportunity for students to ease their worries, connect with others, and embark on what is bound to be some of the best four years of their lives," says former orientation leader Ashley Morris ’09.
First-Year Reading Initiative
What could be more collegiate than sitting around discussing a good book? In a no-pressure environment, small groups of students, faculty, and staff chat with one another about a book assigned to the entire freshman class to read over the summer.
“Participating in the freshman reading was something I was really glad Ithaca College did,” says Hillary Keefe ’12. “It automatically gave my entire class something to talk about besides the standard conversation of name, major, and hometown.”
Get a JumpStart!
Can’t wait to get involved in your new home away from home? Apply for the JumpStart program in the summer before you arrive to one of four team-building excursions.
Spend the weekend before classes making friends and volunteering in the Ithaca community in Community Plunge, or take to the gorgeous Finger Lakes trail for hiking and camping with ECHO.
The Lead-in program helps you prepare to be a campus leader from day one. And if you’re blue about being away from home, try going green -- the Sustainable Community Challenge takes you on a tour of Ithaca’s natural history and introduces you to your environmental impact on a local and international level.
ONCE YOU'RE HERE
Hamming it up at Fall Welcome. Photo: Sheryl Sinkow
Moving day is hectic with all that unpacking, arranging -- and rearranging -- of furniture, and meeting floormates and the resident assistant. So to unwind, freshmen get to mix and mingle with faculty at a picnic on the Campus Center quad.
The days leading up to classes are full of important meetings where students learn the lay of the land, the library resources, and meet to discuss the first-year book, but the nights are full of fun, including activities like movies, ice cream socials, and performances.
First-Year Residence Hall Program
“BRT,” as everyone calls it, is the place to be! Students who opt into this housing program live with fellow freshmen in Boothroyd, Rowland, and Tallcott halls in the upper quads.
BRT-living is helpful to any freshman who is nervous about living away from home. Resident assistants often hold more social activities than in the other residence halls to help break the ice.
“Everyone living there is going through the same adjustments that you are,” says BRT resident Zachary Doell ’12. “We’re all worried about getting around campus, locating classes, making new friends, and doing laundry.”
First-Year and Diversity Speakers
IC brings in dozens of speakers each year, but the first-year speaker and diversity speaker are often the most memorable for freshmen.
Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, was the first-year speaker one year.
The first-year speaker is often a young politician or activist. “I look for someone who will inspire students because they’ll see what [the speaker] has accomplished by their age,” says Terry Martinez, Director of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs, who selects the speaker.
For the past few years, Maura Cullen has been the diversity speaker. Cullen is an author and expert on issues of diversity and what it means to be part of a particular community. “One of the things that most impresses me about Maura,” Martinez says, “is that in a room of 700 students, she has the ability to touch every single person.”
Ithaca Seminar Program
The Ithaca Seminar program is comprised of interdisciplinary liberal arts courses for first-year students. Students can choose from a variety of quirky topics, such as the history of secrets, Latin American music, and myths about athletics.
The seminars bring freshmen together for one hour each week and also include discussions about the transition into campus life. These topics range from study abroad opportunities, alcohol and drug use, and time management, to developing good study habits.
In short, IC has all kinds of ways to ensure you get involved and off to a great start your first year. Follow the links at right to learn more!
Originally published in Fuse: The IC Welcome Wagon.