Student orientations for incoming freshman and transfer students are underway at the University of Houston, and they encompass a variety of planned academic and social activities that will give new Coogs a preview of what being a college student is all about.
Students and their parents learn about all the services and programs that will help them succeed, and the Division of Administration and Finance is well represented during this new student programming.
Richard Zagrzecki, parking and transportation outreach manager, is active in the many different student orientations UH offers.
“Between the transfer student ones, and the freshmen student, or first-year students, there are a total of 20 different orientation sessions. I believe 18 of those are in person, and two of those are virtual,” said Zagrzecki.
Parking and Transportation Services has a table station at the Resource Fair where students and parents can ask questions to the department. Zagrzecki said most questions the department receives are about permits and shuttles.
While Zagrzecki answers plenty of questions during new student orientations, he noted that transfer student orientations tend to garner more questions for the department where up to 80 percent of the questions asked are directed at Parking and Transportation Services.
The university’s Dining Services Department is another popular stop for students and parents during the Resource Fair.
“We always have a crowd of guardians, parents, students, and family members that are asking questions,” said UH Dining Services and Chartwells District Marketing Manager Alexcis Mendoza. “They’re curious about the programs that we offer and the meal plans.”
A part of student orientations involves new Coogs visiting the places they will frequent as students. One of those places is the Moody Dining Commons. Mendoza said this gives UH Dining operators a chance to meet the new students while the new Coogs get to experience what UH Dining has to offer.
“A lot of times, this is their very first impression of us is eating with us at Moody Dining Commons or experiencing our catering program as parents,” said Mendoza.
The jubilation new UH students feel during their two-day orientation is also felt by UH Campus Store Manager Samantha Eades, who said her favorite part of orientations is the interactions with future Coogs and their parents.
“We like to say we’re there from day one,” said Eades. “We’re there from orientation through classes, game days, all the way to graduation. So, we’re there. And then even after graduation, as alumni.”
The UH Campus Store also has a table at the orientation Resource Fair to answer any questions students or parents may have. The most common questions Eades and her team answer all have to do with books. Will the books be digital? Should I buy used books? Can I rent the textbooks?
Eades and her team are ready with answers for students, but answers aren’t the only thing the UH Campus Store provides. The staff also provides them with a discount coupon they can use at the store.
Students are inquisitive about their first year at UH and ask plenty of questions, but parents ask just as much and perhaps even more questions than their young college students.
That’s the case for the University of Houston Police Department during their participation in student orientations. Sergeant Dina Padovan said most of the questions they answer come from parents who, as parents do, worry about their children branching off into a whole new world.
Padovan tells students and parents during orientations to add UHPD’s phone number to their phone contacts.
Campus Safety is an important topic for parents, and the four departments that make up Campus Safety – Emergency Management, Fire Safety, Environmental Health, and Occupational Safety – are also on hand at the Resource Fair to answer questions regarding campus safety and emergency planning. Additionally, the department staff have a plethora of swag to hand out.
While first-year and transfer students get to know their new university, one of the items they will need is a Cougar Card. Luckily for them, the Cougar Card department is on hand at student orientations and the resource fair to assist them in answering questions and helping them through the process of receiving a Cougar Card.
Rosie Ashley, department director, said the goal of her department during orientations is to encourage students to obtain their Cougar Card during their orientation visit as opposed to their first week of classes.
An additional goal Ashley wants students to take from orientation is the value of having their Cougar Card to access campus services.
“The takeaway is really understanding what all they can do with their card and why they need it,” said Ashley. “Hopefully, they’ll be busy in the library, and they’ll need it for taking tests. So, there’s a necessity to the card, but there are also those extra perks.”
Ashley’s goal of ensuring students know what the Cougar Card is capable of aligns with how A&F handles orientations. The main goal is to inform students and parents and showcase how the division is here to assist students in reaching their collegiate goals and aspirations.