College Prepares New Students at Orientation

by Rashad Mulla

College Prepares New Students at Orientation

In less than one month, about 2,600 freshmen and 2,300 transfer students will call George Mason University their new home. Hundreds will join the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and select one of the 25 offered majors and possibly one or two of the 55 minors. This summer, many are getting their first prolonged glimpse of the university.

Students battled the record heat during the various two-day orientation programs, traveling from building to building to attend various sessions covering academics, student services, campus life and university involvement opportunities. The second day of orientation featured a variety of icebreakers and low-key events, including the opportunity to meet faculty and staff, learn traditional Mason fight songs, lunch with other new students, and take personal tours around campus.

Evan Baum, assistant dean of undergraduate programs for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, spoke to new students at orientation, giving them advice on how to prepare for college and be a successful student. He outlined a variety of requirements, guidelines, programs of study, and ways for students to challenge themselves upon beginning their academic careers. He suggested obtaining internships, adding minors and studying a variety of subjects. Potential employers want to hire people with a variety of skills, he said.

“Our majors focus on what employers want,” Baum said. “But a major is not a blueprint for any specific career or type of graduate school.”

Laura Scott, a member of the English faculty and academic coordinator, advises students during orientation as well, explaining the possibilities and benefits of an English degree. She spent much of the last two weeks advising freshmen.

“I welcome students to the English major and introduce the wide variety of areas they might explore within our discipline,” Scott said. “But at the same time I provide plenty of nuts-and-bolts guidance. I want students to feel confident and excited about their course choices, so I work hard to reduce the stress of the orientation experience.”

Like Baum, Scott says a College of Humanities and Social Sciences degree is employer-friendly and will help students stand out for their flexibility, wide knowledge, and experience.

“In terms of flexible and creative problem solving, we know that broad experience is superior to narrow experience,” Scott said. “In particular, CHSS disciplines tend to be writing intensive, and we know that writing is the most vigorous exercise of thinking.”

Image: Students add their signatures to the class of 2014 sign. Photo by Evan Cantwell, Creative Services.