A newspaper for ECU faculty and staff
Pieces of Eight

Orientation counselor Jessica Dunlow helps incoming freshmen and their parents learn their way around campus during summer orientation held in June and July at ECU. (Photo by Marc J. Kawanishi)

Orientation Eases Anxiety

By Antwan Staley

Weeks before those first anxious days as rookie Pirates, incoming East Carolina University students and their parents can calm their nerves by attending the ECU First Year Center’s student orientation program.

ECU offers the two-day programs to help new students learn about campus and campus life, while they attend to such duties as class registration, student ID cards and placement tests. Parents often join in for initiation into such topics as finances and financial aid; student health services; academic demands; and parental concerns about student freedoms and values.

Sessions include discussions on academic policies and procedures, textbook and computer purchases, campus safety, computer training and technology, student life and involvement. Students can also meet with advisors and faculty members from academic departments.

“The goal is to make students feel a sense of belonging here at ECU,” said Karen Smith, associate director of the center. The orientation helps students get a feel for what college life will be like, while helping them learn their way around campus. Through programs like orientation, the center strives to improve the overall success and retention of first year and transfer students.

Following a one-week training period, current ECU students serve as guides for the orientation programs.

“We believe the incoming students will listen more if we let a person that attends ECU present the orientations,” Smith said.

Current students can help the new students in their transition to life on campus, Smith said. They can address questions and concerns from a student perspective and help the new students feel comfortable in the college environment.

All incoming freshmen are invited to attend the sessions, along with transfer students who have fewer than 30 hours at the time of enrollment. More experienced transfer students attend a separate transfer orientation program.

Students pay a $100 fee for the program, which includes their ECU OneCard, meals, a course catalog and program materials.

For more information about ECU Student Orientation or the First Year Center, call 328-4173 or visit

This page originally appeared in the Aug. 1, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at