S.O.A.R. Welcomes New Students to Regent
By Amanda Morad | July 1, 2014
Orientation Captain and upperclassman Medina Elaasar among 2014 S.O.A.R. students.
Photo by Alex Perry
It may be the middle of summer, but more than 100 members of Regent University's College of Arts & Sciences incoming freshman class can't wait to start their college experience.
Student Orientation Advising & Registration (S.O.A.R.) is a whirlwind two-day event held each summer on Regent's campus to get incoming freshmen familiar with their new environment. Activities include everything from class registration and roommate requests to bonfires and relay races.
"I had a blast at S.O.A.R.," said incoming freshman Audrey McCombs of Bedford, Va. "It's like you instantly made friends and the only thing you know is that they want to go to Regent too and it's just an instant security, an instant connection. This is a fun place to be, and I feel like I'm really going to enjoy it."
Connection is what drives the S.O.A.R. experience, explained Kyle Graham, Regent's director of student engagement. Graham organizes S.O.A.R. and several other orientation touch points for students to make sure they get connected, acclimated and activated.
"We want to create a welcoming environment for students and for parents that eases some of those new-place, new-experience jitters and trepidations that they may be experiencing," he said. "College is supposed to be challenging; they're supposed to leave this experience different than when they came in. Here at orientation, we try to give them a realistic expectation of what they're going to encounter."
According to Graham, it's an honest, authentic, nonsugarcoated sneak peek of the resources available to students and parents and a preview of what it's like to be a part of the Regent community.
"I'm going home with great relationships I've made with people," said incoming student Christian Ellis of Suffolk, Va. "We've had only about 24 hours, but I've made some really good friends, and I know that I can count them as friends going towards my first semester here."
Between the day a student makes the decision to come to Regent, usually in May, and move-in day in August, there's a lot of time for new students and their parents to create perceptions of what college will be like. Having S.O.A.R. in the middle of summer gives students and parents a way to calibrate those expectations with reality.
"We arrange this touch point right in the middle so that we can connect with them in person," Graham explained. "When they come back in August, they already know people. They've requested a roommate. They've experienced a night in the residence halls, and they've received a taste of the kind of community they'll build as Regent students."
They will also have met several upperclassmen in the form of Orientation Leaders, as well as professors in their intended majors, academic advisors that will help guide them through their undergraduate experience and Student Services staff who will help shape their experience.
"The beautiful thing about S.O.A.R. is that when students come on campus, it gets real," said S.O.A.R. alum and 2014 Orientation Captain Medina Elaasar. "When I attended S.O.A.R., I didn't want to leave because it instantly felt like home. This is a critical time for them to realize, ‘Wow this is going to be my life for the next three to four years.’"
A common encouragement from the current student advisors at S.O.A.R. was to dive in and get involved. Now that they've seen the campus, experienced the residence halls, and started building friendships, students can hit the ground running in August with confidence in their academics and their extracurricular activities.
"When students are actively involved, they become more a part of the community, and if they're more a part of the community, they are statistically more likely to persist from one semester to the next and eventually graduate successfully," Graham explained. "Orientation is about connection, but it's also about them setting them up for success to develop the skills they'll need to pursue their calling in life."
Learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences.
Mindy Hughes, Public Relations
Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888
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