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U of M's Welcome Week helps lay the foundation for first-year students' academic and personal success

Colleges and universities throughout the nation emulate U’s Welcome Week program, now in its fifth year

August 29, 2012

Media note: Media interested in covering Welcome Week activities must contact University News Service in advance at (612) 624-5551

Some people might think that the first day of school is the most important day for first-year college students, but here at the University of Minnesota, the next six days of Welcome Week are the ones that help lay the foundation for the students’ academic and personal success.

Now in its fifth year, Welcome Week aims to improve student engagement, first year retention and ultimately graduation rates by equipping students with the knowledge and resources to make a successful transition from high school to collegiate life.

“Students who participate in Welcome Week are more likely to feel a 'sense of connection' on campus and establish meaningful relationships with upper class students, advisers, support staff and faculty after going through the New Student Orientation & Welcome Week programs,” says Beth Lingren Clark, director of the U of M's Orientation & First-Year Programs.

Welcome Week consists of six days of activities and programming designed to give the estimated 5,500 members of the U of M's Class of 2016 a positive start to their college careers. It has proven to be a very successful program with students and parents, and serves as a model that is increasingly being emulated by colleges and universities around the country, Lingren Clark says.

"We work hard to be intentional with Welcome Week programming, making it fun and interesting. Students who participate are more confident before classes begin, make more meaningful connections on campus, have increased school pride and are more likely to stay in school and graduate," Lingren Clark says.

Students navigate Welcome Week in small groups led by upper-class Welcome Week leader volunteers. There are more than 417 leader volunteers.

Each of Welcome Week's six days from Wednesday, Aug. 29 to Monday, Sept. 3, features a different theme. More information and a complete schedule of Welcome Week activities can be found at Here are a few highlights from Welcome Week.

Kick-Off Day! Wednesday, Aug. 29

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Students will check in, receive their group assignments and a detailed schedule of the week. Students have dinner together and attend kick-off meetings with their group leaders.

10 p.m. Target Run: Nearly everyone forgets something for their room or needs snacks to share with their new friends, so students can take dedicated buses for the popular late night shopping trip to Target.

College Day! Thursday, Aug. 30

11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Students participate in creative activities specific to the U of M college to which they're enrolled.

9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., Mariucci Arena: New Student Conovcation -- University of Minnesota of President Eric Kaler officially welcomes new students to the university.

11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., various locations: Students can meet faculty and learn about resources and opportunities available from their chosen college.

8:30 to 9:30 p.m., Mariucci: Keynote motivational speaker Jermaine Davis talks with students about how to create an intentional first year of college and how to make the experience their own.

U of M Day! Friday, Aug. 31

8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at various locations: Students will attend a wide variety of workshops including:

  • Live Like a Student: Learn how to live within your budget, how to stay out of debt, where to find cheap discounts on campus and other tips for financial success during their college career.
  • You at the U and What that Has to Do With Woo: This session will give students more insight into results of their StrengthFinder instrument taken earlier in the summer. This interactive session gives students a chance to learn more about the Strengths approach and how making them S.T.I.C.K. (through Skills, Time, Intention, Community and Knowledge) can help students create a meaningful and successful “U” experience. This session will help students learn how knowing their strengths will make them successful at the U.
  • Respect U: Learn what it takes to Respect U and your University!  This event will expose students to critical issues that are important to the student community.

8:30 to 9:45 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium (rain location is Mariucci):

       Pride & Spirit

  • Students learn all the cheers, chants, and songs that make the U of M unique on game days.
  • The Class of 2016 forms gigantic M on the football field for their class photo.
  • Football Coach Jerry Kill, the Spirit Squad, the U of M Marching Band and Goldy Gopher will all be there to help students celebrate their first week as Golden Gophers.

Community Engagement Day! Saturday, Sept. 1

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Students will attend interest sessions to explore opportunities for them to get engaged with the community through volunteer work and internships. Possibilities include everything from being an English as a Second Language Class Assistant to being a volunteer at the Hennepin County Medical Center.

9 a.m.: 5K Walk for Water starting at Coffman Student Union’s Great Hall & Theater
H2O for Life is a non-profit organization that raises money to help developing countries gain access to clean water. In many developing countries people have to walk more than three miles to collect water for their families to use -- walking a 5K (just over a three-mile distance) raises awareness for this issue.

Community Exploration Day! Sunday, Sept. 2
Noon to 4 p.m., students will explore the Twin Cities through small group excursions to noteworthy locations throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Prepare for Classes Day! Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3
This day is reserved to allow students to relax, attend sessions missed during the week, and prepare for the first day of classes on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Twin Cities Campus: