TMCC College News

Innovative Student Orientation Model Helps Students “SOAR”

Posted: Feb 20, 2014

Picture of Natalie Brown

A new model for student orientations at TMCC will meet students where they like to be – working interactively online in combination with small-group in-person sessions where they will receive individualized assistance.

“Research shows that if a student attends college orientation, they are more likely to graduate,” said Natalie Brown, program director in the Academic Advisement, Transfer, and International Student Advising Center at TMCC.

Previously, 3-hour orientation presentations were held for up to 120 students at a time. There were 13 sessions for the spring and 35 for summer/fall semesters.

“At the larger group orientation sessions in the past, we wouldn’t have time to meet with students one-on-one, so they might not know the specific class they’d need to register for, and then might not register,” Brown said.

The new orientation model will be available for the summer and fall 2014 semesters. The online component will become available during March, and small group lab workshops will continue from March 31 until classes start in the fall.

The first half of the orientation is called “SOAR I,” Student Orientation, Advising and Registration. Students receive a link to the Canvas tutorial through their TMCC email.

“The first step in the new orientation is online; students will get a link to Canvas that is very intuitive,” Brown said. “Every topic that had been covered in the in-person large group session will be on Canvas. There aren’t too many places to go, so it’s not too confusing. They’re organized into modules, go in order, and each module starts with a video.”

Subjects covered will include an introduction to helpful resources at TMCC like the Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC), time management, what a hybrid course is, an online tour of campus locations, English and Math placement information, procedures in applying for financial aid, how to navigate MyTMCC and more topics important to new students.

The estimated time to complete the tutorial, complete with brief quizzes, is about one hour. However, students may complete the modules in parts and refer back to them later for review.

“Students can go at their own pace, from the comfort of their own home,” Brown said. “There will be so many more time-of-day options for the in-person groups; we’ll have sessions nearly every day. Also, they will have access to the online tutorials all semester.”

After successfully completing SOAR I online, students will sign up for in-person advising and small-group SOAR II session in the advising computer lab.

“The second part of the orientation is with two advisors to only 20 people in each workshop,” Brown said. “In the advising lab, students will be in front of a computer and actually be able to register, so they feel confident in their first semester schedule.”

In the computer lab, students will practice logging on to MyTMCC, receive guidance about any prerequisites and foundational courses they need, and register for one class up to a full load.

“There will be about 140 small-group sessions for summer/fall registration, and they’ll be offered in the morning, afternoon, evening, and on Saturdays,” Brown said.

In-person workshops will also be offered at high schools; taking place in computer labs around the region.

The online component will also give advisors more opportunities to reach out and offer individualized assistance.

“We’ll now be able to see which online modules have been completed, so we can email students and offer help so that they can finish the online part of the orientation,” Brown said.

In addition to getting the information needed when starting college, students will also be introduced to staff and resources they will most likely use in the future.

“It’s a more welcoming environment, with just one advisor for each 10 students,” Brown said. “Students will meet the advising staff and become familiar with the advisement office, so they feel comfortable asking questions and coming back whenever they need more information.”

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TMCC's Public Information Office
Telephone: 775-673-7087

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