By Alvin Fernando | Design Editor
A cheer rang out in the Coffin Gymnasium as motivational speaker Mike Fritz awakened the sleep-deprived bunch of freshman assembled on the morning of Aug. 17.
“In West Philadelphia, born and raised, On the playground is where I spent most of my days,” rapped the 570 incoming students.
No, it wasn’t freshman karaoke night but rather the start of The College of Coastal Georgia’s Anchor Days; the second of a new three-part student onboarding process. The first-year campus oreintation program comes after the discontinuation of CCGA 1101 College Success Seminar. In the past, CCGA 1101 was a two credit requirement for all first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students in Brunswick and Camden.
An enhanced summer orientation, combined with Anchor Days and Coastal Discovery Workshops have replaced the information overload students were previously subject to via summer orientations and the aforementioned 15-week course. When staff recognized westudents were struggling with simple tasks such as connecting to WAVE’s Wi-Fi, navigating COAST or deciphering DegreeWorks, the need for change was evident. It was back to the drawing board for how orientations were run at CCGA.
Cue the light bulb over Dr. Jason Umfress’ head. The Vice President for Student Affairs along with his leadership team proposed a harmonized new student program: the two-day intense sessions of Anchor Days, supplemented by the ongoing seminars of the Coastal Discovery Workshops emulates an emerging model in higher education.
The College’s personal counselor Cheryl Van Dyke, who played a major role in revamping orientation, said the modified approach will prove valuable in the long run.
“We are taking a more traditional approach and reducing the number of hours needed to graduate. From 123 to 120”, said Van Dyke.
Students spend less time in classrooms trying to graduate, and they will pay less to attend college; $50 for summer orientation versus the cost of a required 2-credit hour course that was essentially non-transferrable.
During the opening days of fall semester, the incoming students who attended Anchor Days were split up into groups of about 20. A team of current students christened the “Blue Crew” led these groups.
If you were on campus in the two days prior to the start of the semester, chances are you saw them wearing a royal blue shirt with freshman ducklings following closely behind.
Orchestrated by Student Affairs staff, the Blue Crew members managed “Blue Crew Time”: icebreakers and games that assisted students in becoming more acclimated to campus life and each other.
Computer lab sessions were also held to iron out logistical and technical issues and allow students to familiarize themselves with COAST, BrightSpace (formerly D2L) and DegreeWorks – all programs that are frequently used by CCGA students.
Classroom experiences were also arranged to acclimate students to the institution’s atmosphere. Students attended information sessions where they were informed about their major by the respective department heads.
“I think getting to know the campus better, people and upperclassmen is helpful,” said Kit Wheat, first-time Blue Crew Member. “All the little questions you want to ask during orientation but you haven’t been here long enough that you know you need to ask them. I think that it is definitely a good thing.”
If you have any questions about Anchor Days, the Blue Crew or are interested in becoming a member of the next Blue Crew, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto your Instagram or Twitter account and search the hashtag “#anchordays”.