Returning Student Orientation Overview

Returning Student Orientation (RSO) was launched in Fall 2017 to foster a sense of connection, wellness, and academic diversity among Penn community members. This evolving, collaborative orientation has successfully been carried on through students’ initiative and partnership with various campus offices. RSO is hosted in the Fall and Spring semesters and provides an opportunity to share experiences, wisdom, and resources among community members navigating the return process.

Objectives

To provide support, resources, and advocacy for students who have taken time off from academics for personal, academic, social, professional, or health reasons.

       To reinforce the concept of academic diversity and its integration with life in which students are encouraged to attend to their personal, social, and emotional growth while they pursue academic and career development.

       To enhance a sense of connection among returning students and guide them to acknowledge and share the strengths, resiliency, and leadership qualities they explored while they were away from campus. 

CAPS Returning Students Group:

     https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/caps/returning


Questions? Please contact Student Intervention Services:

vpul-sisteam@pobox.upenn.edu

Objective: Provide support, resources, and advocacy forstudents returning to Penn after leaves of absence.

SIS works with many students who take leaves of absence andrecognizes a need to support those students upon their return to academics andthe campus community, as well as to normalize the diverse academic pathsstudents take. In the summer of 2017, a student involved in campus wellnessinitiatives reached out to SIS with an idea for a “Returning StudentOrientation.” SIS eagerly agreed to support the student’s idea.

SIS identified several goals for RSO:

·        To provide support, resources, and advocacy withstudents who have taken time off from academics for personal, academic, social,or health reasons.

·        To destigmatize the concept of taking LOA, or”gap year,” and to reinforce the concept of academic and life integration inwhich students are encouraged to attend to their personal, social, andemotional growth while they pursue academic and career development.

·        To enhance sense of connectedness amongreturning students and guide them to acknowledge and share the strengths,resiliency, and leadership qualities they have explored while they were awayfrom the campus.

SIS worked with students, the Weingarten Learning Resources Center,CAPS, and the four undergraduate schools on two Returning Student Orientationevents, one in September and the other in January. Each program includedintroduction of staff and resource offices, a panel discussion with formerreturning students, and socialization with food. Seven returning studentsattended the first RSO, and 18 attended the spring RSO.

SIS intends to continue advocating for students’ and thecommunity’s wellbeing through RSO. In the coming year, we intend to implement anassessment of the event. We also plan to expand our collaboration to includemore campus partners, such as cultural centers, the Chaplain’s Office, andStudent Financial Services, to best meet the needs of diverse students.