Saint Xavier University (SXU) students, faculty and staff have been hard at work preparing to welcome first year students to campus this fall. The first step in beginning the college journey is attending SXU’s first year orientation, FOCUS.
At FOCUS, students are introduced to campus and are afforded the opportunity to experience various aspects of college life. First-year students are led by upperclassmen orientation leaders (OLs) who guide them throughout the experience and answer many questions along the way.
OLs lead their groups (named after each of SXU’s core values) to different events over the two-day period. These events include: “Meet your college/school,” where students gather in small groups with their future professors to learn more about their programs of study; “Check your Tech,” which allows first years to log onto the MySXU portal for the first time and access campus resources like Canvas and The Den; “Eat and Greet,” where departments, ranging from Residence Life and the Graham School of Management all the way to WXAV, visit with students and introduce them to all that SXU has to offer.
Although FOCUS provides first-year students with a lot of information, there is also time for fun! Students are invited to an open gym at the Shannon Center during their night spent on campus, as well as a dance party in the Res Center. Additionally, all students spend the night on campus in SXU’s first-year residence hall, Regina Hall. FOCUS really is an all-encompassing experience.
Senior OL Jacqueline Tischina thought that the groups of students at FOCUS were excellent and can already see the impact they will have on SXU’s campus starting this fall. “There are a lot of really fun people!” said Tischina. “There is a good mix of students from the ones who are more reserved to those who are those who are more outgoing.”
First-year nursing student Nakia Jones felt that the FOCUS experience was incredibly helpful. She is excited for all of the new opportunities that will be available to her in college. “I am excited to get involved,” said Jones. “I’d like to play softball, be an OL or do anything related to student leadership.”
As a way of showing first-year students the inclusive and welcoming environment that SXU promotes, students attend a guided session led in a question and answer format. This session covers topics like diversity and inclusion on campus and what those issues mean to first-year students and the University as a whole.
Near the end of their time at FOCUS, students are given a campus tour led by their OLs. This is a great opportunity for first-year students to see campus through the eyes of those who have gone through it before them, and OLs are more than happy to offer advice on how to adjust to life on campus.
First-year elementary education major Emily Fritz feels that her FOCUS experience will make acclimating to college much easier. “I really enjoyed FOCUS!” said Fritz. “Meeting new people has been great and coming into college will be easier with the new friendships I have made.”
Being able to seek out a familiar face is important on campus, especially during the first few weeks as a first-year student. Although it is the simplest aspect of FOCUS, one of the most important ways the OLs lead first years is by guiding them through “ice breakers.” These fun games allow students to get to know one another and can help them make friends, or at least find a familiar face in the SXU Diner in between classes. The bonds first years are able to make with their OLs and fellow classmates will surely last throughout their time as SXU students.
Orientation leader Antonio Morales has been happy with the FOCUS sessions so far. He is grateful for the training the OLs received and thinks that students can gain a lot from the entire experience. “Coming to college you have a lot of different emotions, but the first years have been handling it really well,” said Morales. “Every student has been excited about at least one aspect of FOCUS and that’s my favorite part.”