Foundations for Student Success

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New Student Orientation plays a critical role in preparing students for their studies at the University of Georgia.

Earning a degree from the nation’s first state-chartered university requires hard work and dedication—but incoming students should also know that they’re in a supportive environment, with professors and staff who are committed to their success.

This summer I, along with several additional administrators and faculty, have the privilege of welcoming incoming students to campus during New Student Orientation. During our talks, we give students a broad overview of academic life at UGA. Some of the information we share is relatively new, like our experiential learning requirement, while other bits of advice, like the importance of time management and academic honesty, are timeless.

One distinguishing feature of a UGA education that we discuss during orientation is our First-Year Odyssey Seminar program, which introduces students to the learning environment on campus and helps them forge bonds with professors and their classmates. These small-group, one-credit-hour courses allow students to explore more than 300 topics ranging from biomedical engineering to books that changed the world and women in leadership, the latter being a course that I enjoy teaching each year.

In addition to small-group seminars that connect students to academic life, UGA students benefit from hands-on learning experiences that connect their classroom knowledge to the world around them. Through internships, study abroad, service-learning or research, all of our students engage in hands-on learning that gives them a competitive advantage after graduation.

I strongly encourage incoming students to get to know their professors and to visit them during their office hours. In addition to seeking guidance from their professors, students who are struggling academically can get assistance through our Academic Resource Center, which offers free online and in-person tutoring. Students who are undecided about their major can get personalized guidance from one of the specially trained advisors in UGA’s Exploratory Center, which opened last year. It’s also never too early to start thinking about career options, and our robust Career Center offers networking opportunities and guidance related to internships, resumes, cover letters and interviewing.

Our classrooms and laboratories are not the only places where students will learn and grow during the next four years. The Division of Student Affairs offers more than 800 student groups focused on professional, cultural, artistic or philanthropic interests. With so many options, we know that each and every one of our students will be able to find groups that align with their interests and aspirations.

I conclude my remarks to incoming students by asking them to picture themselves in 2021, wearing their cap and gown during Commencement. By making the most of their UGA experience, they can position themselves for a lifetime of success and fulfill the promise of the University’s 1785 charter, which so eloquently describes the youth as the rising hope of our land.