So what’s the point of eating pizza as a dorm, playing a board game with friends, participating in a neighbourhood food drive, or other cool events that will be happening during September at Redeemer? Besides the fact that it’s going to be a ton of fun, there is a reason why Redeemer is putting so much effort into planning these events as part of LAUNCH.
It’s because your sense of belonging affects your overall success at university, including your academic success. We want you to feel at home, make friends, and get involved.
If you are curious about how we do this, I’ll let you in on some strategies we find are effective:
1) Just-in-Time Information. As you prepare for university life it’s important that you realize there will be a graduation lunch during your fourth year. NOT. A mistake we can make as a university is that we either give you too much information and overwhelm you, or we assume you know it already and don’t give you enough. So what we are trying to do is give you ONLY the information you need, and ONLY when you need it. We have plenty of time to tell you what graduation looks like, let’s first focus on what your first day will look like.
2) We plan a whole variety of events and activities. Some people like big crowds and some like one-on-one conversations. Some like board games and others like soccer games. LAUNCH is a massive mosaic of activities. You may not like all the events but that’s okay because hopefully we’ve planned those few events that you absolutely love. And the amazing part is like-minded people will be at those events and you can connect with them to make sure those events occur more.
3) We use the spiral method of introductions. There is a lot of people to meet in the first few weeks of school. Rather than introduce you to everybody all at once we try and introduce you first to the people you will be interacting with most. So that means meeting your roommate, dormmates, your dorm neighbours (LAUNCH team) and other students with the same academic interest.
4) We recommend you go to everything we’ve planned but we don’t require you to go to anything. The more you attend, the quicker you’ll understand Redeemer and feel at home. And if you are feeling particularly tired one day or just need a break, take the night off to read or relax on your own; we want you to be refreshed for the next day’s activities. We plan a lot so that you can have choice. However, a common regret we hear from fourth year students is that they skipped out on an activity without a good reason.
5) We introduce you to normal university routine as quickly as possible. We don’t see the point in planning an orientation program that looks nothing like actual university life. It’d be fun, but then you’d get back to campus and have to have a second orientation. Instead, we introduce you to university life and sprinkle all the typical fun stuff throughout the first week and months.
6) We want to get to know you. Other schools have thousands of new students to welcome. It’s easy to get lost. Redeemer only has about 200 new students to welcome and we want to get to know you all. There are many staff and volunteers working together to make sure you’re not just a number, but a friend as well.
7) We care about all of you. Just as university is more than just academics, so are you more than just a brain. We find ways to connect you to a strong spiritual community, introduce you to the geographical space on campus, introduce you to new friends, and facilitate conversations with professors, help you carve out your own identity within Redeemer’s context.
These are just a few of the strategies that we plan to use to help you transition. It’s not important that you memorize these because we’ll be doing them whether you realize we are or not. It’s kind of like knowing music theory where a guitar solo still sounds amazing whether you know the theory or not. However, an understanding can help you see the big picture.
About the author: Micah Van Dijk is the LAUNCH program coordinator and one of many Student Life staff members working on campus.