Student success is central to Welcome Days

Welcome Days for new and returning students are fast approaching, with more than 60 events and sessions designed to introduce students and their families to SF State and help them succeed.

Once students move in, they have lots of choices to make -- academics to pursue, activities to explore and acquaintances to nurture into friends. Welcome Days is designed to help this process along. In fact, the first few weeks of the school year are critical for students and can determine whether they will persist in their studies and stay at SF State, according to Mary Ann Begley, interim dean of students. “We’re looking at a lot of literature and research that has demonstrated what students need to know,” she said. “We need to show them the way.”

Welcome Days

Even transfer students who may be familiar with college life can benefit from the events. “A lot of [these] students feel like they already know the ropes, but they’re very contextual on where they’re from,” said Brian Stuart, assistant dean of students. Transfers want to connect with people and integrate themselves into the new school. “They want to be seen as an SF State student, having always been an SF State student.”

Friday, Aug. 22 features a full day of activities, programs and outreach from all corners of the University. “We always get a lot of faculty and staff that volunteer” for Welcome Days, Begley noted. “It’s an opportunity to meet faculty and a low-key, less anxious way of talking to professors. There’s a dialogue and you learn, ‘They’re human too. I can have a conversation with them.’”

After registration and open houses in the early morning Friday, there’s the official SF State welcome, "Faces of Community," scheduled for 10 a.m. in the Quad. The Taste of SF State food and activities showcase is at noon, and then there are Student Success workshops starting at 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. (Most of the workshops are repeated so students aren’t limited to just one.) These range from "10 Things Students Should Know Before Starting College" and how housing and financial-aid disbursements work to choosing a major and studying abroad.

Attendance at different sessions also signals particular needs in the SF State community, according to Stuart, who pointed out that workshops on campus employment and student involvement are solid draws. “There’s some ownership in picking the sessions,” he said. “Going into Welcome Days with a broad open mind is kind of required.”

For Begley, the events encourage students to try something different. “Attend a program, meet new people,” she advised. “It’s all about discovery and being excited and willing to be engaged. Welcome Days meets students where they’re at and challenges them in a positive way."

-- Anthony Lazarus