In less than a month, the University of San Diego’s 2013-14 academic year begins. At that time, more than a thousand first-year and transfer undergraduate students will be on campus, most living in residential housing and they’ll be experiencing all of the above feelings, and all at once.
David Bittner, a USD senior, understands. He was in that role three years ago. Speaking amongst a panel of current USD students, faculty and staff at an Aug. 3 Summer Send-Off event, Bittner’s advice for incoming Toreros was direct.
“You’re going to meet so many different people from all different walks of life, people from all over the country and from other countries,” he said. “The best advice I can give you is to just go for it. That’s what college is all about. You need to be open to new things and new experiences.”
But USD and the Office of Parent Relations understand that not everyone embraces change instantly or smoothly. That’s why, for many years, the department has coordinated free Summer Send-Off events throughout the country. Often hosted by USD parents and alumni, these events offer a pre-orientation welcome as early as mid-June and into August, provide pertinent information in a smaller setting and gives students the chance to meet other students from their respective area. The send-off events feature USD representatives, administrators, parent board members, current parents and students in attendance.
The Summer Send-Off does not replace USD’s annual Fall orientation program, Ole! Weekend, which is being held Aug. 31-Sept. 3 this year.
This past Saturday’s Summer Send-Off was held on the USD campus. It gave local incoming students the chance to meet other students and to absorb the campus atmosphere. This was the third summer event — one was specifically for new transfer students and the other was presented only in Spanish — and they’ve each been a hit.
“We’re seeing a high level of excitement among this incoming class and we’re really excited too,” said Merrick Marino, assistant dean for USD’s Center for Student Success, who spoke briefly during the panel. “We feel good about the things we have in place to help the students get connected. There are good things to come.”
Questions were asked about USD’s resources for career development and opportunities, Living Learning Communities, preceptorial program, best practices for USD move-in day and more. Following the panel discussion, there were breakout sessions with parents in one room asking questions to a few current USD parents as well as a students-only gathering, allowing students to connect with each other and to ask specific questions and advice.
Connecting early when attending a college or university is shown to greatly enhance a student’s chance of success. At USD, where the retention rate is 90 percent, there are programs and resources to make the transition easier. It’s also important to note that it doesn’t just happen at the start — it’s something that carries on throughout a student’s time on campus.
“Getting a job is presently on my mind since I’m a senior,” said Bittner. “I’ve had four internships. I recommend that students should check out Career Services. They can prepare you professionally with resume and interview development and link you to the real world opportunities. I know that outside companies love USD and want to hire USD graduates. They’re academically prepared, but also wholly prepared because they’ve had other experiences while they’re on campus. That’s why it’s important to go outside your comfort zone while you’re here. You never know when your experiences at USD could turn into a career. Find your passion and find out what you like.”
— Ryan T. Blystone