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New and improved First-Year Success Series to help new Huskies feel at home

August 26, 2020

In a year unlike any other, new students will find continued support and resources through a revamped First-Year Success Series designed to reach them both on and off campus.

Kicking off with a Sept. 2 Virtual Resource Fair, the series will feature a collaboration of workshops to help new students transition to NIU, connect with their fellow Huskies and develop strategies for success.

The workshops will serve as touch points, offering students refreshers on programs, resources and services introduced to them during orientation and Week of Welcome, said Jenna Pracht, director of Orientation and First Year Programs. Mainly offered in the fall in year’s past, this year’s series will extend through the spring.

“We’re really trying to be intentional about what type of programs we’re highlighting, focusing on the expected or anticipated milestones of students continuing from fall into spring,” Pracht said.

Built around the areas of personal and financial well-being, diversity and inclusion, Huskie pride, career exploration and connection to academics, the series aims to address students’ common concerns and questions.

They’ll find ways to get involved, meet new friends, get help with their classes, chart a path to career success, appreciate the diversity around them and understand their responsibilities. They’ll feel at home, organizers say.

“We’re taking the less is more approach,” said Melanie Griegoliet, assistant director of Orientation and First Year Programs.

In years past, 50-plus programs were featured as part of the First Year Success Series. This year, Griegoliet said, programs are based on the office’s First Year Outcomes. The goal of First Year Outcomes  is for students to demonstrate knowledge of university resources, develop an academic and career plan early on, be exposed to diverse cultural perspectives and, overall, develop a sense of NIU pride, she said.

The Virtual Resource Fair will feature programs and services across campus, such as the Center for Black Studies, the University Writing Center/ACCESS, the University Honors Program, the Center for Student Assistance, JobsPlus and the Office for Undocumented Student Support, among others.

The series will continue on Sept. 15 with Creating Campus Connections featuring a panel of NIU students sharing how they’ve developed their own networks at NIU.

And on Sept. 17, first-year students will take part in the first of several Conversations on Diversity+Equity (CODE) workshops offered by Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. They’ll explore their own unique cultural identities and the identities of others as they build their cultural competence.

An October workshop will focus on financial literacy, while workshops created and hosted by graduate student leaders and NIU’s cultural resource centers also are in the works.

Looking ahead to Spring 2020, the office aims to collaborate with JobsPLUS on an Alumni Networking event, continuing ADEI’s Code Sessions 3 and 4 and more.