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Jennifer Lewis, left and Ashlyn Lewis review orientation materials during the 2011 orientation on campus. Another round of new Pirates will be arriving at East Carolina University from mid-June through mid-July for two-day orientation sessions. This year, parents will have the opportunity to experience a night on campus staying in a residence hall. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

New students and parents arrive for orientation

June 8, 2012

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Orientation at East Carolina University is more than meeting academic advisors, registering for classes or reserving text books.

It’s where new students, and parents, learn to be Pirates.

“It’s an introduction to campus and what college will be like,” said Mary Beth Corbin, director of student transitions and first year programs. “They get to walk around campus, they get to meet upperclassmen, they get to meet faculty members and learn about campus resources and organizations. They get to eat in the dining hall and have an option to stay on campus.”

Eight, two-day orientation sessions are offered from mid-June to mid-July for incoming freshmen and transfer students. About 540 students attend each session, and those students often bring one or two parents or other family members.

Two-day orientation sessions are scheduled for:

June 11-12
June 13-14
June 18-19
June 25-26
June 27-28
July 2-3
July 9-10
July 11-12

“Over the summer, we’ll see 8,000 people on campus,” said Karen Slough Smith, associate director of first year programs.

This is the first year that parents have the opportunity to stay in a residence hall during orientation. The option will give parents, particularly those who never attended college, a glimpse of what living on campus is like.

In between campus tours and information sessions, participants gather in Wright Auditorium for a high-energy kickoff by ECU orientation assistants.

“We teach them ‘purple-gold,’ ‘argh,’ the no quarter cheer and the fight song,” Smith said.   

An important part of orientation is meeting with advisors and reviewing class schedules. Students will start with 12-15 credit hours, based on their intended major, and they can drop or add classes as needed.

“We start the students thinking how college will be different than high school,” Corbin said. “Study skills and time management is huge. Dealing with the responsibility and coming to college is a big transition.”

Another highlight is region meetings, where students from the same area are introduced. What started as a way for out-of-state students to connect for possible carpooling has become popular with in-state students too.

Orientation allows students to reserve textbooks and get an ECU 1 card, their official ECU identification, which is used for meal plans, checking out library books, using campus copiers or printers, admission to events and more.

It’s also an opportunity for parents and students to talk with financial counselors to finalize financial aid, and to sign up for ECU ALERT, the university’s emergency communication system.

“They can take care of those things now so they don’t have to worry about them in the fall,” Corbin said.

Special family sessions will provide information about campus resources to help parents direct their child should they need it.

“We give them tips on how to support their student through the transition,” Corbin said. “We really want the parent feeling comfortable when they leave that their student will be OK and successful here.”     

Also new this year, Camp PIRATE (Preparing Incoming Recruits in Academics, Traditions, Engagement and Spirit) will be offered Aug. 15-17 before classes start Aug. 21. The program is modeled after Fish Camp at Texas A&M.   

Selected students will spend three days and two nights at Camp Seagull in Arapahoe for an in-depth orientation that will include ECU history and traditions and team building exercises. “It’s an additional experience for students, to connect them with the university before class starts,” Smith said.

For more information on orientation, go to

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