By Nicole Zodrow
What does Anchors do?
Anchors is a freshmen orientation program that consists of a series of events which occur during the first two weeks of school. It was created by the Hilltop Welcome Team of the Transitional Experience Council to enhance the appeal of the event Orientation Week, currently known as Welcome Days. The team creates the events of Anchors and what those events will consist of. On their web page at Campus Labs, the program’s goal is detailed as letting its new students “create a community of peers before their first semester begins” (Campus Labs). Anchors accomplishes this goal by how they invite the new members of the St. Edward’s community to start socializing and engaging with other members, especially the ones who are beginning a college lifestyle, with the events and activities that it offers. One demonstration of this could be found with the groups that are formed based on the students’ on-campus location, as detailed by Joanna who was an Orientation coordinator for Anchors as well as an Orientation Leader during one summer session in 2016. This method familiarizes the new students who plan on living on-campus with this lifestyle since those groups are organized similarly to St. Edward’s on-campus life.
What is Welcome Days?
Welcome Days is a social event which provides the opportunity to introduce new students to not only to St. Edward’s University, but to its community. A single three-hour day in the past, it has now updated to last during those two weeks. It is also filled with activities for the freshmen to participate in such as the Welcome Block Party, Welcome Barbecue, and HillFest.
What do you get out of participating in Anchors?
When Joanna decided to participate with Anchors, she was inspired to become involved with the St. Edward’s community. The people involved with Anchors are dedicated to making the students’ experience at Welcome Days as welcoming as possible. One philosophy of Anchors in the past was to “be open-minded.” That aspect is linked to Anchors’ goal by how the new members of St. Edward’s interact with various members of this community such as faculty members. In a study regarding college adjustment, the results reflect how the value of openness was found to be a “significant predictor of academic adjustment” by how the factors of “flexibility of thinking and an interest in new ideas and viewpoints” are enhanced from the beginning to the end of the student participants’ first year at college (Kurtz, Puher, and Cross 635).
What would people expect from Welcome Days?
Taking the first steps at college can feel intimidating at the beginning for a new student. Joanna recalls from how starting college “[was] a new thing so it’s kind of scary” but does recall “having a lot of fun” when she got to experience these types of event at the beginning of her time with St. Edward’s. A group of researchers that conducted a study about orientation courses found that as a result of taking part in those kinds of courses, students stated that they had a stronger understanding of what skills they needed to be successful at college. Those skills included “communication skills, knowledge of campus resources, and pre-major requisite knowledge” (Ewing-Cooper & Parker). Despite the significant difference in the leaders (the study’s courses being led by academic advisors and Anchors led by the students of St. Edward’s), it can be seen that these events assist in helping a new college student adjust to their upcoming lifestyle at college.
How does Anchors contribute to the St. Edward’s community?
With Anchors creating a strong connection with its new members, the values of St. Edward’s community are an important factor to consider as the events are conceived and developed. Joanna considers that the program echoes the four pillars of Holy Cross based from her experiences as an Orientation leader, specifically “Educating Minds, Informing Hearts.” She observed that the new students learned about compassion with how the program’s events put them with other new students whom they never met before. By also incorporating a well-known symbol of St. Edward’s (the anchor from the Holy Cross seal), Anchors contributes to the St. Edward’s community by how they embed tradition along with this community’s values into the development of their events.
How can students get involved?
If you are interested in more information about what you should expect from the program or how to help coordinate it, then check out https://www.stedwards.edu/orientation/welcome-days-move, or contact Michelle Mowry of Student Life: firstname.lastname@example.org.