Tech prepares for fall with summer orientation

By Kelsey Horath

Louisiana Tech University’s campus has been bursting with life over the summer as upcoming students and parents attend orientation sessions.

The university offers four sessions for first-year college students and two sessions for transfer, visiting, post-baccalaureate and nontraditional students. Along with these sessions, a Parent and Guest Orientation for family and loved ones of incoming students are also accessible. 

Freshman Orientation as well as Parent and Guest Orientation are 2 ½ day events that starts Wednesday with check-in and ends Friday at noon,” Elton Taylor, Director of First-Year Programs, said. “Our ‘Transfer Orientations’ are a half day event taking place from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

During Freshman Orientation, each student is assigned to a team and Orientation Student Leader (OSL) who helps guide them through campus and university policies for the fall. 

Also, students are encouraged to participate in different activities and events offered during sessions like “Dog Days of Summer.”

“Taking place in Railroad Park, Dog Days of Summer is the unofficial ‘Welcome to Ruston and Orientation’ event on the first day of orientation,” Taylor said. “Students hear from Main Street Director Amy Stegall and Mayor Ronny Walker, learn the chants and spirit songs for Tech athletic events, participate in a scavenger hunt throughout downtown Ruston businesses and dance along to tunes spun by local DJ PHALL (Patrick Hall).

Orientation is an important step in the transition to college and helps ensure an easy change for students and parents.

“First and foremost, orientation is the opportunity for the university to help students develop a sense of belonging at their new home,” Taylor said. 

Jacob Thomas, assistant to the orientation coordinator this summer and previous 2021 OSL, remembers just how pivotal orientation was during his freshman year.

“I think it’s so important for freshman to come to orientation because they really get connected to the campus in ways they can’t get after the school year starts,” Thomas said. “During my freshman orientation, I remember seeing how much fun college students were having and feeling like I had found a great place to come to school.”

Having this summer experience starts a road of memories for the next four years of college.  

“We have started to call it a right of passage as a Tech student to come through such an amazing experience like orientation,” Thomas said. 

To date, three first-time student orientation sessions have been held this summer and two transfer.

Over 560 students attended each first-time student orientation session held previously, totaling 1,723 student attendance thus far. As of now, 565 are registered for the last session at the end of July.

“It has been a very busy summer for campus and our orientation staff with this being the most students attending orientation since pre-COVID,” Taylor said. “Additionally, we have had over 1,000 parents and guests attend orientation so far this summer.”

Adding to this, Taylor expects the university to return to first-time enrollment numbers closer to the trend they were experiencing in 2018 and 2019.

“We are expecting to have served 2,200-plus at orientation and based on past data, we are anticipating an incoming class close to 2,100 students,” Taylor said. 

This could be big news for Louisiana Tech University as it would be a potential 15% or more increase over last year’s first-time enrollment.

This successful summer of orientations could not have happened without the working parts behind the scenes to make sure each session ran smoothly.

“The process would not be possible without the whole campus, from the grounds crew that keep campus beautiful, the maintenance folks keeping AC running on these hot summer days, the dining crew cooking up delicious meals and all the way up to our university president Dr. Les Guice, who loves to attend orientation events and welcome the students and parents personally,” Taylor said.

OSLs also play a large role in orientation success and spend weeks getting ready to deliver the best session possible for students.

“Orientation would not be what it is without the 19 OSLs who pretty much run the entire student session on their own,” Taylor said. “They work harder than anyone to make sure the experiences we deliver are top-notch and exceptional.”

The final first-year session will be held July 26-28.