“Bored” is often not a state of being that Drexel University students can relate to.
With 10-week terms, short breaks and the co-op cycle, students at the University more often put themselves in the “busy” category. But there is one point in their career at Drexel that Student Life admins hope students will feel that they have the time to relax and explore — during its 10-day, 250-event Welcome Week for first-year resident, commuter and transfer students.
“I definitely think that the benefit of Welcome Week is that it eases students in a way that they need, because the minute that the academic term starts, that’s all they can think about,” said MacKenzie Luke, PhD, assistant vice president of Student Life. “… If they feel bored by the end of Welcome Week, that’s OK. We want them to because they’re about to embark on something kind of wild. So that means that they’ve taken their time, they’ve made friends, they’ve invested in different parts of campus, and so they’re ready. We want students to feel ready. We don’t want them to feel overwhelmed at the beginning of the term.”
Drexel Welcome Week 2019 will run from Friday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Sept. 22, with move-in taking place between Sept. 13 and 15. For the first time this year, international students have been invited to move in on that first Friday, in addition to transfer students, so that they may acclimate to campus and any time difference before diving into Welcome Week programming.
Student Life is also working with Drexel’s Department of Public Safety to make driving routes for families traveling to various on-campus residence halls a bit more user friendly.
“They’re going to be color coded by hall using chalk on the streets,” said Kaitlyn Delengowski, associate director of special events for Student Life. “So if you follow the red arrow, you’re going to follow the red arrow the whole way to get to your residence hall.”
“Assuming it’s not raining,” Luke added with a nervous laugh.
One thing that can’t be made easier for students and families participating in move-in weekend are road closures and traffic modifications due to campus and city construction and renovation projects. Those traveling to campus this weekend are strongly encouraged to give themselves ample travel time to avoid traffic delays, particularly if you plan on using I-76 eastbound, as the 30th Street exit will be closed.
“So while we expect there is going to be some traffic, we don’t think it will actually impact move-in day operations at all,” Luke said.
Once new students are unpacked and settled in, they can pick up their DragonCards, stop by the bookstore and attend the Campus Resource Fair, which will help introduce you to a variety of Drexel offices, services and departments, as well as local businesses and restaurants.
Commuter and transfer students also have their own Welcome Bash from 3–5 p.m. on Sept. 15 which, if it’s the only Welcome Week they can attend, provides as much need-to-know information as possible.
“It’s a mega-session that’s quick and jam-packed,” Delengowski said. “If this is the only thing you’re coming to, here is what you need to know from a variety of different offices where you can also ask questions.”
On Sunday evening, all incoming students and their loved ones are invited to the Family BBQ to enjoy a final meal together before the student-centric Welcome Week events really kick off. The biggest one of these, the Welcome Week 2019 Kick-Off at The Franklin Institute — will immediately follow the BBQ.
Delengowski said that, in addition to the vendors and events that were a hit last year — most notably the student DJ battle in The Franklin Institute’s planetarium — they are also switching it up by getting more student organizations involved with the Kick-Off event this year.
“So not in a tabling aspect, but providing some interactive activities,” Delengowski said.
Sam Hubner, a fourth-year studying marketing and management information systems who is the student body vice president through the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA), said she’s glad her organization will be present at the event to answer new student questions and host a prize wheel, as well as participating in the Student Leader Panel from 12–2 p.m. on Sept.19.
Hubner said she’s glad new Drexel students get a long Welcome Week, as the start of the academic term is usually a tough transition for new students.
“I think it’s just kind of nice to be on Drexel’s campus and not have to worry about classes, and just kind of get acclimated before you’re thrown into the class structure,” she said.
Christian Maxey, a third-year studying operations and supply chain management and the vice president of the Campus Activities Board (CAB), said Welcome Week programming is also a good opportunity for new students to be exposed to different campus groups early on — if not to join them, then to at least get to know what they’re all about.
“This is a perfect opportunity to get to know them and show them some cool things to do on campus, some cool things to get involved in from our end, to promote what we do and hopefully increase involvement,” he said.
CAB has also partnered with The Good Idea Fund to put on this year’s First Bash which will take place after the Kick-Off. Maxey said the late-night event will be four times bigger than it was last year, taking over the whole central part of campus around Lancaster Walk where organizations will host events, games, free food and prizes. CAB will sponsor an origami and craft table.
“It’s essentially a giant party,” Delengowski added.
Following these large-scale events, there are plenty of other happenings throughout the week to continue to keep students busy. To keep their schedule straight, students should utilize the DrexelOne mobile app to create their personalized Welcome Week schedule — a resource that Luke said was underutilized by students last year.
Most notably, College Day is on Sept. 17, and students will spend the day getting to know their respective colleges and schools. College Day starts with the Breakfast with the Provost, which this year will be held in the Main Building’s Great Court. Executive Vice President and Nina Henderson Provost M. Brian Blake, PhD, will welcome new students to campus and kick off the day filled with both academics and fun.
While College Day is aimed at introducing new students to their fellow classmates and future professors, each activity hosted by the colleges and schools should also send students off campus to introduce them to the city that surrounds them — the city of Philadelphia.
“I think this is so critical because it’s such a huge part of what Drexel is as an institution,” Luke said. “Getting students away from campus is one of the biggest things a college can do during College Day.”
Hubner would encourage new students to go explore the city all throughout Welcome Week to help them start understanding the city from the get-go. She remembers her own College Day activity — a scavenger hunt where she and her classmates walked to and from Center City.
“I was sweating, it was like 110 degrees and I almost got run over by a car,” she said with a laugh, adding that exploring the city early on helps also since Drexel’s campus is so woven into the fabric of surrounding University City.
“It’s going to make it feel like home,” she said. “It also brings everyone together.”
Another outlet for students to come together for a common goal during Welcome Week is through the first-ever Welcome Week Cup hosted by Recreational Athletics. New students are encouraged to make a team with their residence hall, their fellow commuter or transfer students, etc., and compete throughout the week by participating in or attending events like rock climbing, dodgeball and a dive-in movie at the Rec Center pool. The winning team will lay claim to the physical Welcome Week Cup for the remainder of the school year.
“We want to bring some healthy competition to this exciting week,” said Shawn Riley, intramural coordinator for the Department of Athletics. “The goal is to get students to come to the Rec and Rec events so we can showcase everything we have to offer.”
Additionally, students can individually enter the First 100 Days Dragon Contest on Instagram starting on Sept. 16 for the chance to win $50 in DragonDollars. Just create a post with three pictures featuring all the fun things you’ll be doing on campus and in the city by Oct. 7, also tagging @DrexelOne and using #dragoncontest19 in your post.
There will be a lot to do during, and remember from, your Welcome Week experience. Maxey said that even though you don’t have to be doing something 24/7 throughout the week, you should never feel like there isn’t something to do. That may mean that you’re not taking full advantage of everything the University and its surrounding city have to offer.
“We hear this all the time, but I think Drexel is literally like a living laboratory,” he said. “I think Philly is truly an amazing place to be, and I think that it’s one of those places that, if you aren’t aware of what you have access to or what opportunities it has, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed or get lost in everything.
“Nobody will ever lie to you. We are not a slow-paced environment,” he continued. “We’re very fast-paced, so I would say take this time to just really get to know what we have to offer, what this campus can provide you, but also what the city can bring you, because I think there’s a lot of fun stuff to do and there’s also a lot of practical stuff to do.”
For Luke, even though she knows that 10 days of welcome events can feel like a lot for students when they’re in the thick of it, orientation engagement is also an excellent retention tool for the University.
“The more well-rooted you are to campus life, the more likely you are to persist through your degree,” she said. “So, we really want every student to feel like they’ve found a home at Drexel.”
Find out more about Welcome Week 2019 here.