Summer Programs Provide First-Year Students with Head Start

WASHINGTON, Pa. (August 1, 2013)—Two Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) initiatives—the First-Year Summer Outdoor Experience and the Leadership and Service Institute—reach incoming first-year students each summer, helping to prepare them for a successful transition to college.

“With any first-year student, there is a time of adjustment, the fear of not knowing anyone, of being away from home,” said Steve Anderson, associate dean of students at W&J. “These two programs are designed to introduce participating students to college life, to allow them to feel connected, and to enter college in a proper frame of mind.”

Fifteen students who will attend W&J in the fall participated in the First-year Summer Outdoor Experience in June. More than 25 incoming students are expected to participate in the Leadership and Service Institute in August.

“I am no longer going into college, in a new state, alone,” said Felix Nicol of Ann Arbor, Mich, who participated in the First-Year Summer Outdoor Experience. “I now have people who, over the course of the trip, proved that I could rely on them and who would be willing to help me out in the stressful year ahead.”

Anderson said, “We embrace the philosophy of experiential learning while guiding students to develop self-awareness, enhance relationships and define community. Both programs are intentionally designed to teach about the expectations of college, help incoming students develop a support network to assist in their transition to W&J, and to have a successful first year.”

First-Year Summer Outdoor Experience activities included a guided tour of the lower caves at Laurel Caverns, a trip to Meadow Run Natural Waterslides at Ohiopyle, camp activities at Kentuck Knob Campground, a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, a day on a high-ropes course, and whitewater rafting.

The four-day Leadership and Service Institute program will focus on leadership, service and cross-cultural collaboration. The Leadership and Service Institute offers participants an opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills, become part of W&J’s history of a commitment to volunteerism, and meet students with similar interests.

“Students will have the opportunity to connect with their new community, getting information from staff, faculty, alumni, and other students,” said Justin Dandoy, director of volunteer programs at W&J. “They will have meals throughout the week with faculty, alumni and nonprofit agency representatives, as well as with President Haring-Smith.”

Dandoy said day one of the Leadership and Service Institute will include teambuilding exercise at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.  The following day, participants will explore the local communities of Pittsburgh and Washington, where they will visit the non-profit agencies and consider volunteer opportunities.  The program includes a Washington-area community service project.

The fall semester at W&J begins Sept. 2.

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Summer Programs Provide First-Year Students with Head Start