Foundations of Excellence: Orientation programs to emphasize student success

June 3, 2013  

With an eye toward improving student success, Purdue's orientation programs soon will include enhanced tools to prepare incoming students for academic life as well as to engage parents in the transition process.

Fostering and promoting student success during Boiler Gold Rush and the Summer Transition Advising and Registration (STAR) program are in accordance with Purdue's Foundations of Excellence initiative, which seeks to enhance first-year students' academic outcomes.

Changes to Boiler Gold Rush largely represent the expansion and refinement of components included in last year's program, says Dan Carpenter, senior associate director of transition and success programs. Additionally, a University committee is weighing changes to the STAR program, which will debut in redesigned form in 2014.

This summer, Boiler Gold Rush will include several components aimed at improving students' academic success, Carpenter says. Boiler Gold Rush will be held Aug. 11-18.

For example, the student induction ceremony will return for a second year. This event will see University faculty and administrators kick off Boiler Gold Rush by wearing academic regalia, take the stage inside Elliott Hall of Music and administering an oath to incoming freshmen. President Mitch Daniels will once again speak at the event, Carpenter says.

"These opening ceremonies are very much like commencement -- there is a sense of excitement in the air as our new students learn what it means to be a Boilermaker," Carpenter says. "The idea is to get them to feel part of the Purdue community right away, and also to get them invested in their own academic success here."

Another success-oriented addition to Boiler Gold Rush will be a day focused on the academics students will encounter during their first semester. These activities, which will take place on Aug. 15, include a host of preview sessions for large-capacity, foundational courses. The preview offerings are expanded from those of a pilot program last year, Carpenter says.

Students may attend previews of any course in which they are enrolled; during the sessions, the course's faculty member offers a look at its syllabus, general tips about how to be successful in that class or other helpful information.

Also on Aug. 15, ITaP staff members will offer sessions about how students can use academic technologies, including Blackboard and similar tools, in Purdue's classrooms. Those sessions will be new this year.

On Aug. 16 during Boiler Gold Rush, the academic colleges will offer welcome sessions to incoming students. These welcome sessions, which Carpenter says help orient students with major programs of study, were piloted last year with significant success.

In addition to the changes coming to Boiler Gold Rush, a University committee is meeting to discuss a redesign of the STAR program, Carpenter says. Currently a one-day session, STAR will be held this year on weekdays from June 17 to July 11.

Traditionally, STAR has focused heavily on facilitating advising and registration for students, Carpenter says. The redesign committee, however, is looking for ways help students transition to life at Purdue further orient and teach parents about how to help their students succeed. More details will be decided in the coming months.

Meanwhile, those with suggestions for ways to improve STAR may send comments to Carpenter at

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325,

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