Welcoming first-year students to campus

The SHU men's lacrosse team helps freshmen carry their belongings as they move into their dorms for the first time. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

The SHU men’s lacrosse team helps freshmen carry their belongings as they move into their dorms for the first time. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

The start of a new semester can be overwhelming, especially for first-year students who haven’t experienced the college setting yet. The stress of moving away from home into a strange place with people you have never met and worrying about your classes can be enough to scare anyone away.

Kennedy Kehaw is freshman at Seton Hill University (SHU) experiencing this change first hand. “Everyone is very nervous during their first week of college and the GO Weekend was a great way for people to relieve some stress and have a great time,” she said.

Kehaw was referring to GO Weekend, otherwise known as Griffin Orientation Weekend. In order to compensate for the fear of the change and unknown, colleges and universities have designed the first weekend at school to be welcoming, engaging and, hopefully, fun for first-year students to escape the stresses of being new to campus.

Students celebrate another year of Target Takeover with Bullseye, the official mascot of Target Corporation. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

Students celebrate another year of Target Takeover with Bullseye, the official mascot of Target Corporation. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

Commonly it is known as orientation weekend, where you meet new people, possibly the love of your life and definitely friendships that will last a lifetime. At SHU we like to refer to it as GO Weekend.

“The goal of GO Weekend, in short, is to create an atmosphere that minimizes anxiety, promotes positive attitudes and stimulates an excitement for learning,” said Jessica Mann, associate dean of student engagement at SHU. “All while building a sense of community among the incoming class through an introduction to information, resources, faculty, staff and other students ensuring their academic and personal goals.”

“GO Weekend definitely helped me transition into the college atmosphere. I didn’t know anyone here when I first moved in, but as I attended the events held during GO Weekend, I began to talk to people and I got to know some of the other people who I would be attending Seton Hill with,” said Kehaw.

SHU students turn Target Takeover into a shopping adventure. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

SHU students turn Target Takeover into a shopping adventure. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

GO Weekend is packed full of various events and activities for first-year students to partake in. The idea of these activities is to encourage the students to get to know their fellow classmates as well as introduce them to life on campus.

“Students and families mentioned they were feeling welcomed and excited to be a member of the Seton Hill community,” Mann said. “Ivan Pecel, our juggler on Friday evening, was also well received by students. He had a wonderful energy about himself and provided a dynamic and exciting show for those in attendance.”

The juggler was one of the many events that allowed students to let loose and forget about the stresses the first few days on campus often entail.

“Our celebration after the well-attended Mass on the Grass was very special. We had games on the lawn and finished off the evening with a large fireworks display,” Mann said. “It’s a great way to end the weekend with faculty, staff and students enjoying each other’s company out on the lawn.”

A student volunteers during the Ivan Pecel juggling show. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

A student volunteers during the Ivan Pecel juggling show. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

One event that never seems to fail and students always look forward to is Target takeover. Every GO weekend, SHU rents out Target for the night, giving students the opportunity to shop and have some well-needed fun.

Jacob Westwood, a freshman at SHU, said that the takeover was his favorite event during the weekend. “GO Weekend definitely helped me get to know the campus as well as most of the people in my year.”

“I wish that there was another tour of the campus and that we could officially test-drive our schedule during GO Weekend,” Westwood added.

Kehaw used the scavenger hunt as a way to get to better know the campus and her roommates. “It was a lot of fun to try and solve the riddles on the scavenger hunt and then try to find the location that the riddle hinted to. We had a great time posing for pictures in the various locations that the riddles told us to go to,” she said.

Students and faculty gather for Mass on the Grass. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

Students and faculty gather for Mass on the Grass. Photo courtesy of E.Michaux.

GO weekend has also inspired Kehaw to look forward to her future at SHU. “I hope that next year I can become an Orientation Leader and participate in organizing next year’s GO Weekend,” said Kehaw.

“I would hope that the most significant takeaway from GO Weekend is that the faculty and staff are excited to have the students here on campus,” said Mann. “We’re dedicated to ensuring that all students’ experiences here on campus are positive.”

Following GO weekend was Welcome Week, which included the first week of classes as well as more opportunities for first-year students to engage in SHU student-life. With the beginning weeks of the semester still upon us, there are still many opportunities for students to participate in these activities. For more information visit the Happenings page on Griffin’s Lair to find these activities and more.

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