The Freshman Experience at Olivet

How to stay on track for success from freshman through senior years.

To counteract the feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed, Olivet Nazarene University provides The Freshman Experience for all incoming freshman students.

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Structured to help students plug into college life, this is a requirement that includes preparatory work in the summer before arriving on campus, group activities for study and socializing, and personal growth opportunities.

The Freshman Experience features Orientation in June; College Essentials, an online series of graded assignments which become available in July; Jump Start, a three-day conference at the end of August; and Freshman Connections, a semester-long course in the fall.  

“Freshman Connections has put me in an environment where I feel comfortable asking my questions and sharing my opinion,” says Elizabeth Duncan, a freshman engineering major and president of the freshman class. “This is one way Olivet truly lives its purpose by helping us navigate our way through college.”

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Components of Freshman Connections are: nine weekly class sessions with devotions during the fall semester; Habitudes for the Journey: The Art of Navigating Transitions by Tim Elmore; CliftonStrengths assessment tool plus a reflection paper; sexual assault prevention tutorial; five discussion posts on Canvas; class presentations and discussions on the topics of time management and student finances; and midterm and final exams.

“In Freshman Connections, I learned a lot that I wasn’t expecting to learn,” Elizabeth says. “The book we study, Habitudes for the Journey, has opened my mind to new perspectives.”

Tyler Robinson, a junior majoring in pre-art therapy and psychology and a Freshman Connections mentor, has a different perspective on his college experience. “When I came to Olivet as a freshman, I wasn’t a very social person,” he says. “Now, I enjoy talking with people a lot more because of my Freshman Connections experience. Going to class and department events plus getting to know my professors and people outside my major have all been good for me.”

As an upperclassman, Tyler finds that he is also more attentive to the incoming freshmen each year. As a Freshman Connections mentor, he goes through Jump Start with them and then continues through the weekly class meetings throughout the semester. He assists the professor by leading devotionals and small-group discussions, responding to discussion posts, grading and helping to plan outside activities for the group.  

Drew Benson ’10, dean of residential life at Olivet, served as a Freshman Connections professor for the fall 2018 semester. “Together, we talked about the adversity and challenging times we all face in life,” he says. “Facing opposition doesn’t mean we have to quit where we are. We can learn from this and move onward in our journey.”

“Getting off on the right foot in college and not being blind about what’s happening on campus or confused about how Olivet works are so important for a student’s college success,” Tyler adds. “Because of Freshman Connections, incoming students have a guide and a direction to go.”

To learn more about The Freshman Experience at Olivet, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.

Reprinted from Olivet The Magazine, Winter 2019 issue.