Indiana State University Newsroom

Students, professionals learn about orientation during regional conference

March 22, 2012

As Jeremy McQuigge discussed how the positive elements of playing games can help incoming college students navigate through orientation, his ideas resonated with the audience.

For many of them, it wasn't long ago when they were there themselves.

McQuigge presented one of the more than two dozen informational sessions during the three-day Region 7 conference of the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) at Indiana State University. The conference provided a variety of informational sessions and networking opportunities for undergraduate and graduate college students and professionals who work in orientation at a variety of colleges and universities in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario, Canada. More than 275 people from more than 40 different institutions of higher education across the region attended the conference.

McQuigge informed people on how some of the positive elements of playing games, such as cooperation and perseverance, can be related to students' college experience. During his presentation, he cited the example of how people can relate to the long-running game show Price is Right.

"It was a lot of fun to present, but it's games," McQuigge, student transition coordinator at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada, said of his presentation. "Everybody loves to play a game."

Other conference attendees, including undergraduate and graduate students, also presented the various sessions and roundtable discussions. Kaila Butcher and Curtis Wassum, students at Purdue University, attended sessions on Saturday morning before giving a presentation in the afternoon about how their university's diversity awareness program is implemented during orientation.

As part of their presentation, they also led an activity as an example of programming that is provided. They also enjoyed the networking opportunities to speak with others attending the conference.

"It's great that people are so willing to share, and people are always willing to talk here," Butcher said.

People attending the conference openly exchanged ideas and experiences, even though they didn't know each other, Wassum explained.

"They want to hear the things you have and just bounce ideas off each other and brainstorm with fresh ideas," he said. "You might not even know their name, yet you're bouncing ideas off of each other as to how you can make your orientation programs better for students you haven't even met yet."

The regional conferences encourage students to network with each other, said Kathy Jicinsky, assistant director of new student programs at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It's important for conference attendees to network with each other, since colleges and universities conduct student orientation differently, she said, and "because our students are changing every year."

Jicinsky helped organize the informational sessions during the conference. Topics ranged from implementing different technologies in orientation to issues affecting students of color to a roundtable discussion on research, assessment and evaluation. The group received more than 40 proposals for different sessions, which allowed organizers to be selective in determining which ones to offer, said Joe Thomas, director of new student programs at ISU who helped organize and host the conference.

"There are a lot of undergraduate students here who are doing orientation for the first time, but we also have a good pool of professionals who have been doing this for years," he said, "so we want to make sure that everyone, no matter what their experience, is getting something out of this conference."

Some presenters also enjoyed learning more about the different universities' programming. Karina Garduno, a graduate student at Indiana University in Bloomington, helped lead a presentation about addressing transfer students' needs. Having earned her baccalaureate degree from Indiana, she is experienced with the way the university implements student programming.

"I think it's really interesting how some of the smaller schools have some of the same struggles we have," she added, "but how they're dealing with them a bit differently."

Photo: - More than 275 representatives from more than 40 colleges and universities throughout Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Ontario attended a regional conference of the National Orientation Directors Association March 17 at Indiana State University (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: - A fashion show closed out a regional conference of the National Orientation Directors Association March 17 at Indiana State University. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: Joe Thomas, director of new student programs, New Student Transition Programs, Office of Admissions, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or