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GETTING TO KNOW ECU: Incoming freshmen and their families arrived on campus Monday to begin two-day orientation sessions, at which time they will tour the campus, meet with an advisor, register for classes and find out about the many resources offered to them on campus. For additional information about orientation, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/fyc/orientation.cfm. Photos above by Cliff Hollis.


ECU 101: Orientation to the Pirate nation

By Rachel Castro
ECU News Services

Call it the formal hello — the time each year when the newest Pirates take a measure of their first home away from home and sample what life is like at East Carolina University.

Orientation began on campus June 13 and will continue for eight sessions scheduled through July 14. For incoming students and their parents it’s a time of learning, of reassurance and of building relationships.

“I got to meet professors and learn more about what I want to study while I’m here, which made me feel more comfortable with my decision to study political science,” said Terrell Harris of Raleigh, among those visiting for the first orientation session.

Harris said he met his advisor, saw where his classes will be held and made a few friends. Knowing his way around and having familiar faces will make the transition to a new place in August a little easier, he said.

Parents bring similar expectations.

“I attended orientation to find out about extracurricular activities my daughter could become involved in and to see how the school was organized because my daughter has never lived away from home before,” said Paul Barker of Hendersonville.

For years, ECU’s orientation sessions have helped students and their families grow accustomed to the campus and to the services the university offers. 

“Orientation is a tradition that serves to introduce students and families to the college community and educate them about college resources to ensure them their academic and social success,” said Mary Beth Corbin, director of the Office of Student Transitions and First Year Programs.

"When I was a freshman, I wish I knew..." video courtesy of ECU Student Affairs Marketing and Communication and the Inner Pirate network.


The majority of students who attend orientation have already made the decision to attend in the fall, she says, so they come to take care of necessary pre-enrollment business.

The two-day event is a little like ECU 101.

On day one students receive a campus bus tour and afterward are welcomed by Chancellor Steve Ballard and Virginia Hardy, vice provost for student affairs, in Wright Auditorium.

In the first orientation session of the summer, Ballard described university life at ECU as “transformative” and talked about its goal to be a leadership university. Later, the auditorium filled with alternating chants of “purple” and “gold” as the Student Government Association led new Pirates in football chants.

During the day students meet with their orientation assistant, an upper-classman who is there to get their questions answered. Parents have concurrent advisory sessions on topics such as disability support services, the career center and the parent council. They, too, can find answers to their questions.

One parent, Dee Tripp of Ayden, was making her second trip to orientation. Her son entered ECU four years ago and graduated in May. Now, it is her daughter’s turn.

A few things have changed, Tripp said. For example, the ECU One Card and one-stop process has evolved a little, she said. Yet she said she has fewer worries for her second Pirate, and seeing nervous first-time parents of freshmen makes her glad for that experience.

Students and their families get a lot of information packed into a short time frame.

“All students have the opportunity to hear from the administration on the first day, hear faculty expectations and attend sessions on financial aid, the registrar’s office, the cashier’s office…They also meet with their advisors as well as meet with student affairs educators who introduce them to the multitude of opportunities and experiences available to them beyond the classroom,” said Corbin.

Day one ends with a student involvement fair in the Student Recreation Center which showcases more than 200 organizations at the university.

New student Cara Pattee from Idaho said she was looking forward to becoming familiar with the campus and of the opportunities she could take advantage of in order to succeed.

Her mother, Susan Pattee, was interested in the day-to-day activities that her daughter would be involved in. She wanted to learn everything she could about ECU to ease herself into the time when her daughter would no longer be living with her.

“There is so much freedom in college so I wanted to be aware of my daughter’s new responsibilities,” Pattee said.

The tradition of orientation is the first step in making the new students feel at home and in creating a sense of community, said Corbin.

“Orientation gives students and families the time to learn about and enjoy our campus – to walk around and become familiar with the overall ECU community and what makes this such a special place,” Corbin said.