January 25, 2007

C.U. Spring Transfers Bake, Bond During Orientation

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Most Cornell students remember Freshman Orientation as a week of ice breakers, residence hall meetings and bad hypnotists. But the spring transfers of the School of Hotel Administration, on the other hand, had a slightly more appetizing orientation experience making pizza and cookies.

In pairs of two, students prepared classic college snack food and got to know each other while tasting each others’ creations.

The idea, originating from Vice President Susan Murphy ’73, was introduced as a way for Hotel transfer students to get to know each other during the three-day orientation.

The goal for the three days was group bonding.

Barbara Lang, an undergraduate advisor and the planner of the School’s spring orientation said, “It’s like jump rope. All the other students are on it. It’s about getting the transfers into the rhythm.”

“The orientation program did a great job of making us feel comfortable on campus,” said Dan Rathauser ’10, a transfer from University of Michigan.

“What made the program so successful was that we were able to spend a lot of time getting to know people.”

The orientation began on Jan. 16, when the transfers were introduced to their January Orientation Leaders at the recently-opened Noyes Recreation Center.

Activities were planned for the next three days, where new students learned about career services, financial aid, health and wellness, clubs at Cornell, campus life and the Ithaca area. Students also met representatives from their respective colleges.

The Orientation Steering Committee planned festivities for the evening, including ice skating, dessert with the Dean and a murder mystery dinner.
The week was shorter than in previous years.

Matt McIntyre, director of the Transfer Center said, “We found that a week was just too much time with too much down time.”

This spring, 119 new students entered Cornell, with at least one student in each of the seven colleges. There are 16 more transfers than last spring.
Doris Davis, associate provost of admissions and enrollment, said, “Our goal is to enroll between 100 and 125 new students each spring.”

Of these new students, McIntyre said, “We have about 100 that choose to live on campus. They are disbursed throughout our housing. The Transfer Center houses about 20.”

He added that many live on North Campus because of the housing shortage on West Campus.

One highlight of this incoming student group is the large number of Hotel students. According to Lisa Shafer, director of student services at the Hotel School, there are 46 incoming Hotel students. According to Davis, however, there are 36. The reason for this discrepancy is unknown.

Saxton Sharad ’09, a transfer from Babson College, reacted positively to the orientation programming and his Orientation Leader.

“My Orientation Leader was awesome,” he said. “She was good at showing us around the school. She really went above and beyond.”

Others had criticisms of the program: “Orientation was not all that bad. The main problem I had with it was its conflict with rush. I was very interested in joining a frat, but I simply didn’t have the time to see what I wanted to see,” said Jeff Newman ’10, a transfer from City University of New York Queens College.

But with orientation over, and classes started, many of the transfer students bonded.

Newman said, “Queens was an all commuter school and mostly city kids. It was not at all the college experience I was looking for. Everyone went into Queens with their high school friends; I was one of the few that didn’t. Cornell is a much better fit.”

Michael Ziering ’09, from Monterey Peninsula College in California, summed up his transfer: “It’s the most extreme change I could make. From California to Ithaca, community college to Ivy League. But I love it. I’m really happy. The cold not so much.”