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Class of 2015 Gets Started

College’s Office of Academic Advising assists incoming freshmen before first day of classes

Orientation Sign

Group of students in orientation

Class of 2015 is not just a name for this year’s incoming freshman class - it’s a goal the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences wants to help its students achieve.

But graduating with a bachelor’s degree four years after starting college is no longer a straightforward task for most students. Oftentimes work obligations, misguided major selection and other obstacles detour students from the path of completing their coursework in the shortest amount of time possible.

To keep students on track, the College offers extensive academic advising options that aid students in charting an engaging and achievable academic course. It all begins with the summer-scheduled New Student Orientation and the optional CLASS Learning Communities.

“We are the people behind the scenes,” said Janie Graham, director of CLASS Office of Academic Affairs. “We are the ones that link the student to the university, then to the college, and, lastly, with their departments.”

First-time freshmen attend a university-wide, two-day orientation offered on selected Thursdays and Fridays in the summer with the last one this year scheduled for August 11. In those sessions, they learn how to transition into college life; pay for tuition, fees and books; and become successful students.

“The goal is to give the students a chance to become better acquainted with the university and its resources” said academic advisor Christina Williams. “They will enroll, buy textbooks and tour the campus, and meet their major advisor, which will prepare them for the anticipated first day.”

The CLASS office of academic affairs greets students on the second day of orientation. Advisors assist the incoming freshmen with completing paper work before meeting with their major advisors to discuss degree completion plans and chart out a course schedule for the upcoming year.

After a one-on-one counseling session with their major advisors, they return to academic affairs for a registration session with the academic advisors. They make sure that all their transcripts are in order and help the student find the transition into college life much easier.

“I fulfilled my English and math requirement in high school” said Rafael Avila, a communications major. “I was lost when I sat down to register for classes and Ms. Lewis helped me find the courses I needed along with a drawing class I was eager to take.”

Student may not register for orientation if they have not fulfilled two university testing requirements, the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) examination and a math placement exam offered at the CASA testing center. Registration can be access through their myUH account 24 hours after their examination scores are reported.

Frequently, students come to orientation decided on the major they want to pursue. Within CLASS, the most popular departments among freshmen are Art, Communication, English, Health and Human Performance, and Psychology.

Paul Espinoza plans to major in kinesiology in the Department of Health and Human Performance and will take a 15-hour course load during his freshman year. He also wants to join the university’s Metropolitan Volunteer Program (UH MVP) because he says keeping busy helps him to stay focused on his school work.

“My focus is physical therapy because it is a field of high demand and endless job opportunities” said Espinoza. “I volunteer in hospitals and I feel good knowing I will be able to help people.”

Incoming freshmen also use the college’s orientation sessions to get a jump on meeting other CLASS students and others pursuing the same major.

Lydia Rockson, Chelsea Johnson and Natalie Andrepont are all registered as psychology majors and met while staying at Cougar village during their Student Orientation.

“The conferences were extremely informative and helped more than I thought they would” said Lydia Rockson. “I did not know what to expect since I am the first member of my family to attend UH.”

Chelsea Johnson is studying psychology and public relations because she wants to better understand criminals with mental disorders. She hopes her passion and effort will land her a job with the FBI as a profiler.

Natalie Andrepont is studying substance abuse but has not made up her mind if she wants to be a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

“I want to learn the reasons why people gear towards that type of lifestyle,” Andrepont said. “A degree in psychology will introduce me to my future profession.”

- Luis Zelaya

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