Summer Orientation

Icebreaker games at a summer orientation session. (Photo by Duane Zehr)

Clara Miles MA '05
July 25, 2017

Picture this: You are 18 years old and waving goodbye to your family as they drive away from your residence hall. All you can think is, “What now?” Although you had been to campus several times, you have no idea where most buildings are or even what classes you’ll be taking. Just imagine the anxiety you would feel.

Avoiding scenarios like that is exactly why Bradley requires every new student to attend summer orientation — because no one should begin college feeling confused or alone. Instead, orientation helps ensure that all students get their university career off to the right start by introducing them to campus life and to the challenges and opportunities they will encounter along the way. However, Bradley’s program is much more extensive than most schools’, taking 2 ½ days instead of the typical single-day or overnight offerings.

“We’re trying to simulate the experience of what it’s really like to go to college,” explained David Trillizio, director of orientation and Advisement. “Students generally want three things out of orientation: to get comfortable, to meet people and to register for classes. With our longer orientation, students accomplish all three — and then some.”

Between large group meetings, small group activities and one-on-one chats with Student Aides, as well as entertainment such as the Barbeque Kitten improv comedy troupe, students participate in an array of events to help them socialize with their peers. In fact, orientation is broken into 13 sessions throughout the summer to keep them small — 85 to 100 students — which not only fosters connections between students but also ensures individuals receive personal attention and guidance.

“The one-on-one talks with the Student Aides were very helpful in easing some anxiety I had about coming here, and the personal time helped a lot,” said one attendee. “Also, the academic advisors and professors got me excited for the upcoming year, and the classes I’ve signed up for will be great!”

Of course, orientation devotes time to the academic side, too, with placement testing, advisement and registration, and other informative sessions. Support offices such as financial aid and health services also are introduced.

Trillizio emphasized the importance of including families, so they can share the student’s excitement, meet other families and feel more prepared for the college transition. He said families also enjoy meeting the deans and other administrators and appreciate the opportunity to learn about the resources available to them and their students.

When evaluating the orientation experience, one parent noted, “I’m so glad my son will be attending Bradley. The orientation was very informative. I am confident that he will be challenged academically, grow socially and mature into a confident young adult. It is evident that a lot of work went into preparing the orientation, and I appreciated what I learned in every segment. I also enjoyed meeting so many staff members. It was so obvious that they all loved their jobs, and their enthusiasm will be contagious with the students.”

Now, picture the moment again but a bit differently: As you wave goodbye to your family, you turn and smile, thinking, “I’ve got this,” because orientation prepared you for it weeks ago!