Colonial Cabinet delivers help to incoming students

The first wave of next fall’s freshman class descended on campus last week during the first two Colonial Inaugurations, GW’s summer orientation for new students.


All incoming freshmen and transfer students are required to attend one of five three-day orientations held throughout the summer. CI attempts to acclimate incoming freshmen to GW with events like a University services fair, student activities fair and academic briefings.

Students also take placement tests to determine what courses they will take in the fall and what requirements they need to complete.

But the most important goal of CI continues to be to foster student interaction.

CI is planned by the Colonial Cabinet – 24 current GW students chosen to develop and implement the program.

Cabinet members also write and take part in skits performed for parents and students and lead small-group discussions about what to expect at GW in the fall. Cabinet members seemed omnipresent during the activities.

“We’re pretty much everywhere,” said Beata Tofil, a Cabinet member. “There is a Cabinet member present at every information session and every workshop.”

Although CIs have many of the same events every year, the program grows and changes. One addition to CI this year is an information session for students enrolled at Mount Vernon College.

This is the first year incoming freshmen at the all-women’s college will be admitted as GW students. Plans are underway to integrate the campus, of which GW gained financial control in October 1996, into the University by June 1999.

Toniann Wright, who helped lead the MVC information session, said students enrolled at MVC went through the same CI as other students, attended information sessions and took tours of the MVC campus.

“It went really well,” Wright said. “We weren’t sure what to expect because it was a new experience for everyone.”

Cabinet members said they are enjoying their experiences this summer and had a great time with the first group of freshmen. They say they are happy to put their training to use.

“It went really smoothly,” Tofil said. “We worked together really well – better than we thought we would.”

One thing that has not gone smoothly in the past is telephone registration. Students unfamiliar with the system often have problems getting their classes scheduled on the last day of CI.

A new program was created at the suggestion of previous Cabinet members, in which students learn the ins and outs of telephone registration at a mandatory information sessions on the second day of CI.

Student Association President Carrie Potter, a former Cabinet member, said the session helps take some of the stress out of scheduling for classes.

“We wanted them to be able to hear it and be familiar with the process before they actually had to do it on the third morning,” Potter said. “It calms their nerves about the actual process.”

While students registered, Cabinet members remained in Thurston Hall to help anyone with difficulties. Advisers also were available on the first floor of Thurston, Tofil said.

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