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Top high school students encouraged to sign up early
April 6, 1998

A select group of top high school students visited campus last week, the first students to participate in a new one-day orientation for incoming freshmen.

It was a whirlwind tour. In the space of a day, the group of about 31 students received information about their financial packages, met with advisers, registered for classes, had their photo taken for the student ID, and toured campus. There were separate activities for their parents.

The March 27 occasion was a pilot project, an event open only to high-achieving scholars from Connecticut high schools who have been admitted to UConn and intend to join one of four schools: engineering, business administration, liberal arts and sciences, or agriculture. Before they could take part, the students had to commit to UConn and take placement tests. A second one-day event, similar to the first, was held April 3.

"The idea behind the day is to move students to action earlier and get earlier commitments," says M. Dolan Evanovich, associate provost for enrollment management. "And, if they enjoy the day, they will go back and tell their friends and spread the word about UConn."

Officials are considering opening the early orientation to all admitted students in the future.

"The fast-track orientation is part of a program to get students committed to UConn early," says Susan Steele, vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction. "When I visited last week's pilot, I saw happy students and parents, so I expect the program to expand next year."

Shannon Lee of St. Joseph's High School, Trumbull, was pleased with the program. "UConn really wants me," she said. "They sent me money and offered me a place in the honors program. It feels good. Other places just sent acceptance letters. Here I really feel wanted."

Lee said the day allayed some of her fears. "I was worried there'd be nothing to do, because there's no town or city nearby, but with 12,000 undergrads on campus, there should be enough to do," she said.

Thomas Danielski of Notre Dame High School, West Haven, who wants to major in accounting, said UConn's interest made him feel special, and convinced him to enroll. The orientation also put some of his concerns to rest. "It's not as big as I thought it was," he said after touring campus. "Everyone knew the (orientation) guides. That's a good sign.".

The day culminated in the students receiving their class schedules for the fall, the first members of the Class of 2002 to receive them. Touchtone registration for continuing students begins today.

"The students' questions were very basic, practical questions," said Steve Jarvi, academic counselor and coordinator in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Academic Advisory.

Center. They asked questions like, 'If I take one class at 8, can I take another at 9?' and 'Are the buildings far apart?' That can be a concern for students used to having all their classes in the same building."

Eric Soulsby, associate dean of engineering, said the students he met had few questions. "They were seeking an idea of what they were coming into, what classes they would take, and to learn about engineering," he said. "They were basically reaffirming their decision to come here."

Maria Sedotti, coordinator of orientation services, said the one-day orientation has a different flavor from the regular two-day summer orientation. The fast-track orientation does not allow time for meeting so many people, and lacks the overnight experience in a residence hall that summer orientation offers.

"The one-day orientation strictly takes care of the business matters - advising, registration, ID cards and a tour," she said.

Orientation leader Monika Gupta, a sixth semester junior majoring in finance, said there also was a different atmosphere among the students attending spring orientation. "These students are still in the middle of school. Among the students who come in the summer, half come as their classes are ending, and others come later when they're ready for college. These students are still very much focused on high school."

For those who came, the program was a chance to get ahead in the college admissions process. Alexandra Lemieux of St. Bernard's High School, Uncasville, said the day had given her confidence. "I'm a step ahead of everyone else because I know what's going on..

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu