MacKenzie Luke, PhD, executive director of Student Life, said that Drexel University’s Welcome Week is intentionally long.
While some schools give students just a weekend to acclimate to campus life before classes begin, incoming freshmen Dragons are afforded over a week to adjust to living away from home, meet their peers and take part in more than 500 events introducing them to every facet of the University.
“We want you to feel ready,” Luke said.
Drexel Welcome Week 2018 will run from Saturday, Sept. 15 to Sunday, Sept. 23. For the first time this year, move-in weekend has been extended to two days instead of one in order to alleviate reliance on the parking lot at 31st Street and JFK Boulevard which has been folded into planning for Schuylkill Yards. Luke said arriving students and their families will now be directed to park in either Lot F at 31st and Ludlow Streets or Lot S at 32nd Street behind Caneris Hall.
Welcome Week programming kicks off for those students moving in Saturday with a welcome barbecue from 5:30–7:30 p.m. in the Fitness Plaza, which parents and families are welcome to attend. Following move-in for those students arriving on Sunday, there will be the official Welcome Week kick-off event from 8–11 p.m. at the Franklin Institute, which Luke said was a big hit when it was held in the same location last year.
“Students who skip the kick-off event tend to regret it because it is just a really big party,” Luke said.
During move-in weekend, the University will also offer helpful programming for specific student groups to connect with campus resources early on. On Sunday, those students interested in exploring what churches are available near Drexel can attend the Find-A-Church event from 9–10 a.m. at the James E. Marks Intercultural Center. Students seeking disability resources can attend an open house hosted on Sunday by the Office of Equality and Diversity from 10–11:30 a.m. in the Ida Chen Room of the James E. Marks Intercultural Center. Sept. 16 is also Commuter and Transfer Welcome Day, which boasts orientation events Luke says are comparable to floor meetings hosted in the residence halls, in order for these students to connect with helpful resources, and with each other.
“We try to frontload sessions related to these topics so students aren’t waiting to connect with offices that will help them throughout their time at Drexel,” Luke said. “The sooner we can get them connect, the more likely they are to be successful and persist through graduation.”
On Sept. 17, all new students will attend a mandatory web-based session to introduce them to life on campus and in the city of Philadelphia, including personal and community safety tips, Drexel’s student conduct and community standards and much more. Among a number of additional events, students can also take a moment away from the excitement in the “relaxation room” — a new addition to Welcome Week activities this year. In the Korman Center Multi-Purpose Room, students can retreat to this sensory relaxation space equipped with diffusers, soft music and a coloring station.
“We don’t want to overstimulate to a point that they’re nervous or get sick,” Luke said of the reason for introducing this space. “We wanted to create a space to focus on well-being and taking breaks if students need to.”
Despite this, Zeena Patel, a pre-junior studying hospitality management who is doing a co-op with the Office of Student Life, said she would encourage incoming students to attend as many events as possible as there are so many that are useful.
“There’s a lot of important events that you won’t even realize open your horizons unless you just go to them,” she said.
The specific events Patel recommends include Night on the Row from 8–11 p.m. on Sept. 20, which is an opportunity for students to interact with members of Drexel’s 34 fraternities and sororities. Patel said that she enjoyed this event as a freshman even though she knew that she didn’t want to go into Greek life herself. Additionally, the Dive-in Movie event from 8–10 p.m. on Sept. 21 in the Daskalakis Athletic Center pool is a great event to attend with new friends, she said.
On her College Day — hosted on Sept. 18 this year and where new students are introduced to their colleges and representatives from their fields of study — Patel participated in a scavenger hunt event where fellow students from the Center for Food and Hospitality Management were required to explore Philadelphia, ending up at the Reading Terminal Market.
Luke said Welcome Week includes several events like this, aiming to take students out into the city.
“There’s a lot of information about how to live in Philly, do that safely and take advantage of living in such a cultural melting pot,” she said.
All in all, Luke would encourage incoming students to take full advantage of everything that Welcome Week offers, as it’s been proven that students who get involved in campus life go on the be more successful both academically and socially.
“If you don’t feel well-supported at Drexel, it can be overwhelming,” Luke said. “Welcome Week is important to start planting those roots early. That’s really the goal.”
Click here for a full list of Welcome Week events.