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UAlbany Orientation 2014: Students Embark on College Rite of Passage

ALBANY, NY (July 22, 2014) – It was just one year ago that Bronx, N.Y., native Brittanyliz Echezarria began the rite of passage transitioning from a high school student to college student. An integral part of the higher ed assimilation process, she joined thousands of fellow new classmates in the University at Albany’s freshmen orientation.

Now, as one of UAlbany’s 20 orientation assistants (OAs), Echezarria is helping ease the transition for the Class of 2018.

As an OA Echezarria is tasked with leading incoming UAlbany freshmen through a two-day session. She serves as a group leader for assigned students as they meet new classmates, map academic paths, become acclimated to campus living and most importantly, learn what it takes to be a successful Great Dane.

“This has been a great experience. It gives me the opportunity to show students why I’m so passionate about UAlbany,” Echezarria said. “I’m getting to personally know the new freshmen class. I feel like I can relate to both their excitement and anxiety.”

Approximately 2,400 incoming freshmen registered for new student orientation at UAlbany this summer, according to Sari Khatib, assistant director of new student programs. Eight sessions were offered from June 30 – July 28. Another 1,350 transfer students also registered for single-day orientation sessions, offered every Wednesday in July.

For freshmen and their families, the two-day orientation schedule offers a glimpse into life at UAlbany. Both groups learn about academic services, community responsibility and safety, and attend a campus resource fair. Students also meet one-on-one with their academic advisor, explore involvement opportunities, and learn success tips from OAs. Families are introduced to health and wellness resources, UAlbany’s career services, and tour both the campus and the City of Albany.

Khatib said this year’s orientation program is unique – offering a variety of new aspects. Included is a joint-session titled “Money Matters,” created for both students and their families to explore best practices for managing college expenses. Freshmen participate in an electronic trivia game called ThinkFast. Sponsored by UAlbany’s campus programming board, ThinkFast tests students’ pop culture knowledge. In addition, students participate in OA-led ‘Dane Games’ and are provided a valuable orientation guidebook.

“Our mission is simple, we thrive to have our students and their families connect, explore and learn what it means to be a part of the UAlbany community,” Khatib said. “Ultimately, we want our new students to take pride in becoming great, Great Danes.”

Incoming freshman Arian Selmani traveled from his home in Brooklyn, N.Y. to attend one of the first orientation sessions offered. As Echezarria did last year, Selmani, who intends to major in business, views orientation as the official transition from high school to college student. Now, he’s eager for his first semester.

“The transition from high school to college takes me one step closer to reaching my personal and career goals,” Selmani said. “After seeing what the University has to offer, I can’t wait to get started.”

More than 150 incoming freshmen have also been welcomed to UAlbany through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) summer orientation. EOP seeks to provide admission opportunities for economically and educationally disadvantaged students of all races who are NYS residents. UAlbany’s EOP program has been praised as a model program. During five weeks this summer, new students are in class from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. each weekday, taking math or writing, and a ‘freshman year experience’ course. 

Another 609 freshmen, transfer, graduate and in-bound study abroad students have been admitted through UAlbany’s International Education Program. These new Great Danes come from 69 unique countries including China, India, South Korea, Chile, Jordan, Serbia and Kuwait. A five-day international orientation is set to take place Aug. 17-22.

Visit UAlbany’s official orientation homepage to learn more. Those on social media can also stay up-to-date on new student programs through Facebook and Twitter.

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Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 17,500 students. An internationally recognized research university with 50 undergraduate majors and 125 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit http://www.albany.edu/. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.shtml.