Class of 2012 kicks off college career with summer orientation

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Early summer orientation enables incoming freshmen to see campus, ease anxieties and make friends for the fall.

The question was, "RU Ready?"

And the answer, from some 1,400 incoming Rowan freshmen, a resounding, foot-stomping, you-better-believe-it, OH YEAH!

Invited to Rowan for one of three two-day orientation sessions in June, the students came for a first taste of university life -- a prelude to their next four years designed to ease the transition from high school to college.

Students toured the campus in groups, stayed overnight in dorms, ate in the Marketplace dining hall and took part in a wide range of activities and opportunities. They exercised in the Student Recreation Center, sang karaoke, and played interactive games designed for meeting and mingling.

"From a transitional standpoint it's a great way to get connected," said Helen Polak, an advisor to the Peer Referral and Orientation Staff, student organizers for the sessions. "Lots of students come to orientation, make friends and request roommates for the fall."

A comfortable feeling

Brielle Greco, 18, an incoming education major from Mount Olive in Morris County, said her father, a Rutgers graduate, hoped she'd attend his alma mater but she found it too big and spread out among too many campuses.

Rowan, she said, is "still bigger than some of the schools I visited but the buildings are newer and not too far apart."

And her parents, for their part, liked what they saw too.

"I feel very comfortable sending her here," said her dad, John.

Brielle's mom, Denise, was even more enthusiastic.

"It's beautiful," she said. "It's landscaped well, it's a nice quiet community, I'd feel comfortable going here myself."

The incoming freshmen class, plus some additional 900 transfers, include students from as far away as Washington state, Alaska, Turkey, Nigeria, China and Iran.

Josh Howard, who hails from distant Union County, said he attended an open house in the spring, liked what he saw, and orientation sealed the deal.

"This was the only school I really wanted to go to," said Howard, 17, an incoming Radio/TV/Film major in the College of Communication. "My parents wanted me to go to Rutgers but I think what I'll get here at Rowan will be more valuable."

An aspiring writer/director/producer, Howard described his first two days on campus as amazing.

"Even if you don't know anyone, you come down, have some fun and meet some people," he said.

Last minute shoppers?

Joanne Damminger, executive assistant to Rowan's vice president of student affairs, said the annual freshmen orientation is held in June because it enables administrators, faculty and existing students to meet with newcomers, answer questions, and ease lingering anxieties.

"Another thing a June orientation does is it helps us address concerns to those students who may still be shopping for a school," she said. "They have the chance to come in, see the campus, and make the best decision they can for themselves."

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