Sophomores welcome first-year students to Oxford's campus.

New initiative aims to welcome students to more events

Oxford College staff want incoming first-year students to be more connected this academic year with help from a mobile application and a new welcome initiative.

As part of the Guidebook mobile application, students will have more centralized access to events on campus to help them feel more included in Oxford life.

“In the first few weeks, we want new students to feel more at home and welcome at Oxford,” says Rhiannon Hubert, assistant dean for Campus Life and director of Student Involvement and Leadership.

Each day of new student orientation will focus on a different message for students:

  • Be. Kind.
  • You can do many things but not all things.
  • You are more than a number.
  • Devote time to play.
  • Success includes failure.
  • You are enough.

“My hope is that this will make them feel that they can find their niche at Oxford,” says Hubert, who is an Oxford and Emory University alumna. “That they can find something to fit in with or find a group that they belong to.”

As part of a new initiative called the Weeks of Welcome, Oxford staff have provided an overview calendar of the first eight weeks of school to include all events, lectures, programs, and other special experiences from the start of school through Fall Break in October. Staff anticipate that students having more access to these events will help them better transition to college and find friends and interests in their new community.

The event calendar will be found on Guidebook, an app available for all students that houses their orientation and class schedules, events, maps, and other tools. It allows students to select specific events they want to attend and also can send push notifications to them.

“It's super easy to use; it's really intuitive,” says Hubert about the app. “And it's more in line with what students use, rather than a paper copy.”

College staff haven't added more or duplicated any events to handle the nearly 500 new incoming students this school year, but the new centralized marketing should help make those students more aware of already occurring events, Hubert says.

Michaela Foronda, assistant director of Student Involvement and Leadership, recalls previously students could find out about events via flyers, social media, and at other events–which may still be used to promote certain events. The new feature on the app will help keep those events in a more centralized location that students can easily find and access.

“It helps aggregate all events–academic and social–that happen,” says Foronda, who helped develop the program at Emory’s Atlanta campus and then brought the idea to Oxford. “We hope it will help them find a sense of community and belonging. The first eight weeks of school makes or breaks a student experience and sets the tone for what the rest of the semester or year looks like.”

Also during orientation and the first few weeks of the semester, students will be able to visit Affinity Welcome Spaces around campus. Students and staff will have information for black, Latinx, LGBTQ, first-generation, and other student groups to help them get connected with others who share similar interests.

In the future, Oxford Campus Life hopes to implement more relevant programming to enhance the student experience, Foronda notes. Hubert adds that these new programs were implemented based on feedback from former Oxford student opinions.

Discover more about Oxford Campus Life.