Santa Fe Campus Introduces Extended Freshman Orientation

August 29, 2019 | By Kimberly Uslin

The Class of 2023 in Santa Fe will be the first to experience a new extended freshman orientation at St. John’s.

This week, the Santa Fe class of 2023 begins their St. John’s journey in a way unlike any Johnnie that has come before them: with a weeklong freshman orientation. Though a limited number of students in Santa Fe have had the opportunity to do Wilderness Orientation in the past, the 2019-20 school year marks the first year that the entire freshman class will join together for a week of activities, workshops, meetings, and meals.

The new orientation schedule is part of a larger campus-wide effort to enhance the student life experience, says Executive Director of Campus Health and Wellness Christine Guevara.

“This orientation was designed to provide opportunities for students to develop relationships early, which we all know are key to making sure that students feel connected and a sense of belonging,” she says. “In the past, a lot of information was given to students in a short period of time, and it was clear that students weren’t retaining the information or had other things on their mind.”

The new students arrived on Monday, August 26, two days before their upperclassmen counterparts. By the time Convocation began on Thursday morning, the freshmen had moved into their dorms, spent the day together at Glorieta Conference Center, learned about student supports on campus, completed an all-campus scavenger hunt, met the deans, and much more. Activities later in the week include their first post-seminar party, the traditional pancake breakfast, an Atalaya hike, game night, and the all-campus day of service. Their parents, too, partook in several days of orientation activities, such as the Morning Mingle with tutors, information sessions from various campus offices, and a parents-only dinner with St. John’s leadership and alumni.

“We’ve designed the week to allow students to settle in before jumping into their academics. The first day they move in, tour campus and address any outstanding paperwork,” explains Guevara. “The second day, we’re taking all of the students offsite to just simply bond by engaging in activities that will allow them to get to know their classmates a bit better. Wednesday we will focus on student life, providing them with the information they need to successfully integrate into the residential community.”

“By the fourth day they should have a better sense of where they are going to eat and sleep, who their RA and dorm mates are, and how to do their laundry; now they can start focusing on the main reason they are here – their academics. Thursday will begin with a session with the deans, which will lead into Convocation and their first seminar.”

The robust new schedule is supported by the recently restructured Student Life team, which includes a director of student life, student activities coordinator, and housing coordinator. With better experiences outside of the classroom, Guevara says, students will be more successful inside the classroom.

As she puts it, “I hope that we’re going to see more joy on campus than we ever have before.”