SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Seton Hall University welcomed the first group of incoming freshmen to campus for a “Pirate Adventure,” where students received their laptop computers, registered for fall classes and met their peer adviser.

Approximately 1,100 new students will spend two days on campus in June, according to Dean of Community Development Karen Van Norman. The first group wrapped up its visit today. Sessions also are scheduled for June 20-21 and June 24-25.

New students will return to campus prior to the start of classes in August for a three-day orientation, Van Norman said.

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“The goal for both programs is to assist students with their transition to the university by providing them with information, resources and experiences that help to learn about our community and what they can expect as a SHU student,” she said in an email interview.

The Pirate Adventure program has a strong academic focus, according to Van Norman.  In fact, students will attend their first University Life class, a one-credit class required for all freshmen, during the June session.

Students are assisted in their transition to university life by peer advisers, who are upperclassmen chosen through a competitive process, Van Norman said. “They provide significant information, serve as a Big Brother/Sister, guide freshmen in adjusting and acclimating to college, and provide tutoring during the freshman year,” she said.

Robin Cunningham, associate dean of Freshman Studies, said in an email interview that the peer adviser is the freshmen’s “first friend.” These upperclassmen attend the University Life class with their students. Advisers are responsible for approximately 20 students, although veterans may be assigned up to 40, Cunningham said.

Parents attend their own orientation session. Vice President of Student Services Tracy Gottlieb gives parents some advice about how to deal with their son or daughter’s transition into college. Parents can then choose from a number of sessions about university programs and services. The parents’ day finishes with a chance to meet the academic dean of their child’s school or college to learn more about the first-year curriculum.

“After you drop your student at the residence hall to check in, you will not see him/her again until the next day when his/her program ends,” the schedule informs parents.

Cunningham said that what makes the Seton Hall orientation program unique is the opportunity for students and their families to meet with representatives from both administrative and academic offices and ask questions. “It is a very high-touch experience, which I think serves our mission and our belief that Seton Hall provides assistance to our student body ‘one student at a time,’” she said.

Van Norman said that students will learn more about extracurricular programs and about the village of South Orange during the August session.

DISCLOSURE: Amy Kiste Nyberg is a journalism professor at Seton Hall University. She advises the student newspaper, which is overseen by Dean Karen Van Norman.