Incoming Freshmen Issued Passport to College Life

Fresh faces!

The university’s annual OU Passport summer orientation event held recently on campus gave incoming freshmen a taste of what their new and exciting college lives will be like this fall!  The new Petrels met with their academic advisors to register for their first college classes and received a warm welcome and academic advice from  Provost Denise von Herrmann.

Smile for your Petrel Pass!

A 21st century version of a scavenger hunt (for QR codes!) provided a fun activity for the new students to learn their way around campus.  Tours of the residence halls offered a peek into their new ”homes away from home” and a chance to start planning how to decorate. Smiles came across their faces as the newly issued and still warm Petrel Passes were placed into their hands for the first time.

A passport to Oglethorpe!

Parents and students alike picked up Oglethorpe t-shirts at the bookstore where students also could get a copy of the common reading book, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, that will be discussed by the entire class at various times during their freshman year. Toward the end of the day, Petey the Stormy Petrel mascot joined the crowd on the quad to enjoy some Rita’s Ice and help wrap up a very busy and exciting day.  We’re looking forward to welcoming more incoming freshman for the second OU Passport on July 13!

Visit the Flickr album to see more photos from throughout the day.

Welcome, Oglethorpe University Class of 2016!

Time to show your Petrel spirit!

 

 

Gaining Perspective

Incoming Freshmen

During an OU Passport orientation during the summer, incoming freshmen and first-year students competed in a scavenger hunt. The winners, pictured here, won copies of What the Dog Saw---required reading for the entire class.

As the class of 2015 prepared for its first semester as college students, the undergrads had more in common than just their freshman status. All first-year students shared a cross-major reading of Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw: and other adventures as part of a new common reading program at Oglethorpe.

“Several colleges and universities have established common reading programs over the years,” explained Kendra Hunter, director of student leadership and activities. “By introducing this program at Oglethorpe, Campus Life wanted to incorporate an academic component to New Student Orientation that would create a common experience for new students to begin the development of community among them as well as help prepare them for the academic and intellectual experiences they will have.”

Far from the ordinary textbook, What the Dog Saw is a compilation of 19 features written by the Canadian journalist, all of which were first published in The New Yorker magazine. In this collection, Gladwell explores the “back story” of society’s everyday stories, and makes an effort to find a larger meaning in them. The book is divided into three parts which examine: “minor geniuses” (those who find ways to do ordinary things in extraordinary ways); the theories or ways of organizing experience (such as the controversial program found in some big U.S. cities designed to tackle the problem of homelessness by giving the chronically homeless their own apartments, while less severe cases stay on the streets); and lastly, the assumptions and predictions we make about people (“How do we know whether someone is bad, or smart, or capable of doing something really well?”).

“Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade,” says Gladwell in the book’s preface. “It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.”

Indeed, Gladwell’s book was selected with the input of first-year instructors for its direct connection to first-year curriculum and its potential to encourage debate and real-life application.

What the Dog Saw is composed of essays and themes which appeal to a variety of students and can be connected to multiple disciplines,” said Hunter. “Resulting discussions ranged from their thoughts about the book to having a ‘pitching’ contest in which students took an ordinary object and pitched new and unusual uses for it. Currently, we are looking into visiting a homeless shelter and then discussing or debating the ideas from one of the essays, ‘Million Dollar Murray.’”

Throughout the year, students and faculty have found other ways to incorporate the book’s theme, turning what started as a summer reading assignment into a year-long intellectual discussion about the importance of perspective. Hunter said that three freshman classes took a trip to Dialog in the Dark, an exhibition that forces guests to “see” through the eyes of the visually impaired, using a series of darkened galleries created to replicate everyday experiences. “During that trip students gained a different perspective on everyday life with a visual impairment, encouraging them to be open to ideas and viewpoints other than their own,” explained Hunter.

Not surprisingly, others at OU have found ways to adapt the book as well. The OU Theatre department has plans to modify it for the stage. To be created and performed by students, the play will be presented exclusively at Oglethorpe by special permission of the author on April 12-14, 2012.

What the Dog Saw encourages its readers to think counter-intuitively and to question experiences and the assumptions they make,” said Hunter. “This is exactly what we want our students to do; critical thinking is such a large part of their education and individual development.”

This article first appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of Oglethorpe’s Carillon magazine.

Hundreds Volunteer During Oglethorpe’s Orientation Day of Service

Orientation Day at Oglethorpe is unlike orientation at any other school.  While new Petrels do rush to meet their professors and participate in the essential get-to-know-your-campus activities, they also add another stop to their list of things to do:  community service throughout the Atlanta area.  

On Monday morning,  Oglethorpe University’s incoming class volunteered at seven Atlanta-area nonprofits as part of the annual Orientation Day of Service.  In past years students have volunteered during their first week of college, but this is the first time an entering class has reached seven locations within the same day

For most, it was a way to become acclimated with the city around them, and experience hands-on learning about an an Atlanta nonprofit, its mission, and how it serves the community need.  For others, like 17-year old Parth Patel, the biggest personal impact of the project was having the opportunity to create relationships with classmates from around the world.

“[The day of service] was a great way for me to start making friends,” explained Parth, who spent his morning clearing shrubs and picking up litter at nearby Silver Lake.  “I am originally from Zambia, and it is neat to meet other international students from all over… because we’ve been working together all morning, we’ve had plenty of time to talk and learn about each other’s cultures and backgrounds.”

Parth and 19 fellow freshmen volunteered at Silver Lake in preparation for the community’s 100-year anniversary celebration.  But hundreds of other Petrels spread out around the metro area with plenty of other tasks in mind.  About 80 volunteers packed and sorted books for Africa’s youth at Books for Africa in Smyrna while 40 others worked at Medshare, sorting and preparing medical supplies for those in need the world over.  Another 50 offered their hands at Decatur’s Delano Line Park, helping to remove invasive species on its grounds, through a program called Park Pride.  At Grant Park, more than 100 volunteers worked to  prepare and beautify Atlanta’s oldest public park—just in time for next weekend’s Grant Park Summer Shade Festival.  More students visited Open Hand, packaging meals for medically-fragile patients, and more still spent time at Push Push Theatre, cleaning, organizing and painting areas of the theatre in preparation for a television show that is to be filmed there in the fall.

In recognition of their efforts, the Class of 2015 received the Phoenix Award from the office of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed for “exemplary commitment to community service” and “for its hard work and dedication toward improving our quality of life and making our city a better place to live, work and play.” The Phoenix Award is given to organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to the residents of Georgia.

“Oglethorpe University has expanded its Orientation Day of Service for incoming students to reach multiple nonprofit sites in the Atlanta area,” said Tamara Nash, director of the Oglethorpe’s Center for Civic Engagement. “Our goal is to make the service experience more impactful for both the nonprofits and for the students.”

Fresh Faces: Class of 2015 Issued PASSPORT to College Life

During the "Amazing Race" event, new students participated in a scavenger hunt to become acclimated to their new campus.

At Oglethorpe’s annual PASSPORT event last week, more than 150 incoming freshmen got their first taste of college life during the day-long orientation program.  The newbies and their parents swarmed campus as they met up with their professors, coaches, and classmates for their first official welcome to Oglethorpe. A second PASSPORT will be held in July for the remaining freshmen class.

Their activities included a campus-wide scavenger hunt, a barbeque lunch, and spending some time with their new advisors.  Scroll down to check out pics from the event!

At the Parents' Panel discussion, parents of incoming freshman got advice from parents of current and former students. That's my mom on the left :)

Petey made some new friends.

“Cheeeese!” A student sits for her Petrel Pass portrait.

Refreshment for the freshmen!

The Pop Shop came to the quad with several different popsicle flavors.

Parents and Petey.

Students worked together for the scavenger hunt, and made a few friends in the process.

Orientation Day of Service Reflects the Oglethorpe Difference

The entire Oglethorpe campus is looked forward to welcoming the Class of 2014 when they move into their dorms and take the first steps of their college lives…beginning with orientation.

Ahh, college orientation…a time when new students prepare for the upcoming school year with a week-long crash course of the institution itself.  Like most colleges, orientation week for OU freshmen includes attending panel discussions on academic and student life, welcome parties, and an activities fair with representatives from student organizations vying for their interest.

The Oglethorpe difference begins in the early morning of day three—our Orientation Day of Service.  Unlike most freshmen across the country, OU freshmen rose early Monday morning, met for breakfast, and headed to Atlanta’s  Historic Grant Park  Conservancy to assist the the 127-year-old  park in sprucing up and preparing for its annual Summer Shade Festival.  There, 300 new Petrels worked alongside upperclassmen and other volunteers to get the city’s oldest park in festival shape.

Oglethorpe’s Day of Service, an annual event, serves not only as a way for new students to get acquainted with one another, but  is a testimony to OU’s commitment to community service, something that has become signature to the Oglethorpe experience.

OU Freshmen at a past Orientation Day of Service.