Standardised orientation program for first year undergraduate students in the College of Health and Science at the University of Western Sydney. A Practice Report
First year students often feel ill-equipped academically and emotionally, hindering their integration and adjustment into university life. This paper describes a standardised orientation program for first year undergraduate students focusing on peer and academic support based on ‘just-in-time’ and ‘just-for-me’ principles, assisting commencing students to achieve a smooth transition into university. This initiative has been employed since 2009, in one of the three large colleges at the University of Western Sydney, to foster a sense of community and reduce stress among commencing students. Building on existing orientation activities, we introduced three new activities which focused on ‘just-in-time’ information for the first year, first semester experience, incorporation of student presentations and the inclusion of ice-breaker activities. Evaluative feedback revealed strong academic support for the initiatives, with College of Health & Science students reporting their orientation experience significantly more positively (P=0.003) than students from the other two colleges.