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NMSU increases family focus during student orientation

For members of the class of 2015, in just a few months they went from wearing their high school caps and gowns to sporting crimson and white as freshmen at New Mexico State University. The change in geography effects more than just the students, and this summer NMSU is helping to prepare families for their new normal through the Aggie Welcome Orientation.


Woman holds sign in front of a group of men and woman.
Diane Nguyen, New Mexico State University Aggie Welcome Orientation leader, prepares to take incoming freshmen to their advising sessions with the College of Engineering. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)

?At New Mexico State University, Aggie Welcome Orientation is our transition to the univeristy for our incoming students,? said Gena Bermudez, Aggie family outreach coordinator.

In summer 2014, NMSU started requiring all new students, including incoming freshmen and transfer students, attend an orientation session. Orientation at NMSU exposes students to the programs, resources, campus, faculty and staff of the university. Students also meet with their advisers and register for classes at this event. Family members of the students attend a separate session.

?This summer we changed the family session program and are giving family and guests valuable information about NMSU,? she said. ?It has gone from just a few hours to a full day session in conjunction with their students? session. The family members get the information that the students are getting just in a more general context.?

Bermudez said it is benefical for the family members to attend orientation so they can receive information in a face-to-face forum and it allows them an opportunity to ask questions.

Family members learn about topics such as the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, Campus SaVE Act, registration, advising, financial aid, proxy access system, campus dining, housing and campus life.

?There are so many resources we give to the students and we make them aware, however, they don?t always remember. If a family member heard about it, they are more inclined to remind a student.?

Presenters from around campus include officials from the career services office, dean of students, police department, fire department and health center.

?Our families like to hear the information about how safe their student is going to be and what they don?t need to worry about moving forward.?

Classes will begin on Aug. 19 for the fall semester at NMSU, and orientation sessions run until Aug. 14.

Bermudez said she understands the anxiety parents may feel about their children preparing to attend college. She has been in the family members? shoes with her children, Gerardo, Jocelynn and Jorgi, all who have attended various college orientation programs within the last year.

?Often times it?s harder for the parents. We just have these fears and these expectations.?

In response to the change in programming, the Aggie Family Outreach Office, which is located within student engagement, was created in November 2014. Bermudez said she was proud that NMSU offers an office that families can contact to find answers to their questions.

?Having these sessions really helps the parents feel more comfortable and know who to contact. That was something that was really important to me. I want them to know who to contact in the future if their student needs to get some assistance in any type,? she said.

?I do get quite a few emails after the sessions asking questions about advising or financial aid. Being able to give them that one person that will be able to provide them with the individual or department that can help them, is something that I?m very happy that we are accomplishing.

?We want everyone to understand that our students are our priority and we want to make sure they are happy on our campus,? Bermudez said. ?Not only do we want to get them enrolled but we want to keep them enrolled and retain them and make sure they walk across that stage in four years.?

For more information on the Aggie Welcome Orientation visit http://families.nmsu.edu or call 575-646-1747.