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First year at a tertiary institution can be a time of immense stress and confusion for many students. This could be because not only are they required to adjust to the rigors of their academic life, but also to the campus culture and physical environment. Added this is the fact that, for many of these students, this is also their first time away from the protection and safety of their families. It is for these reasons that it is critical for first year students to be properly orientated, physically, academically and psycho-socially in order to ensure that their first year in the institution is both a productive and rewarding experience.
The Student Services Department spearheaded a comprehensive Orientation Programme that was both informative and entertaining. The aim was to welcome first year students and assist them to integrate into the University culture.
General Orientation Programme:
The General Orientation Programme focused on addressing first year students on all areas of University life that may impact on their experience of the institution. As such students were treated to a quick tour of the campus via speakers from different divisions of the Institution. This enabled them to put a face to departments and develop a deeper understanding of the support services at their disposal.
Fathima Haffajee (Director of Student Services) welcomed the students and highlighted the crucial need to “Graduate Alive”. The main theme of the General Orientation was Academic Excellence.
Mr Oliver Rowe from the Engineering Department did a presentation on “How to be Academically Excellent. The audience responded positively to this thought- provoking and at times humorous look at academic life.
Nonto Mhlongo gave a brief introduction to the Student Services Departments and Staff.
Khaya Msimanga An ex SRC member with a 75% aggregate and several distinctions presented a component on “What Made Me A Successful Student”. She is a successful Public Management student, who is now registered for a B.Tech degree. Her presentation was by far the most popular component of the general orientation.
Introduction to Dut for Life was also presented by the IT personnel who came all the way from Durban. A dynamic presentation was made on how Dut for life can enhance learning.
Lindani Duma, the Deputy President of the SRC introduced the SRC and addressed first year students on critical issues affecting students. He also advised them on how to prepare for their roles in Student Life.
The programme also featured entertainment in the form of dancers, and our very own award winning DUT Choir. The first year students were also treated to snacks and gifts. DUT water bottles with the “Student Services- Orientation 2012” logos were distributed to all.
The General Orientation took place on 8th and 9th February 2012, on the Riverside and Indumiso campuses respectively. Approximately 1000 first year students were addressed in total.
Departmental Orientation Programme:
In support of the General Orientation Programme, Student Services departments also actively participated in the Departmental Orientation initiatives taking place on campus. These were spearheaded by the Student Counselling and development Centre. Sexuality issues were at the forefront of these programmes, with particular focus on HIV/AIDS, STD’s and negotiating safer sexual practices. Each participant was also given a Student Survival Kit, comprising of a collection of pamphlets pertaining to challenges confronting first year’s students.
All-in-all, the variety of Orientation initiatives on both the Riverside and Indumiso Campuses went off without a hitch – and were enthusiastically attended by first year students.
The ninety percent (90%) uptake of the orientation programme by the academic departments was testimony to the support and close working relationships between Student Services and these departments.
Evaluation of the orientation programme by first year students revealed that the vast majority of first year students perceived the programme as useful with ninety nine percent (99%) reporting they found it valuable would recommend it to other first year students.