Beginning with its origins in 1888, the history of first-year student orientation programming has proven itself to be an essential component of the collegiate experience. Effective orientations have the potential to create a strong first impression while supporting the first-year student population in their transition to college life and academia. Orientations function as the fi retention efforts for universities because they can set the first impression and expectations for incoming students. Reflecting on this history and considering the many different elements, models, and components of orientation programming helps to establish the key ingredients of a strong orientation program for first-year students.

Looking at Eastern Kentucky University’s own orientation program provides insight into how colleges go about creating their personalized program, unique to their specific community needs. EKU has three phases to their orientation programming, and these work together to usher in a new class of Colonels. Using research and these observations, three recommendations are offered to EKU to further their excellent orientation program. These recommendations are (1) streamline the peer mentorship role to create one position rather than three, (2) offer some sort of outdoor orientation programming at each phase of orientation, and (3) end the First-Year Seminar with a meaningful and engaging activity or act of service.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2021


Gill Hunter

Mentor Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Clinical Therapeutic Programs

Department Name when Degree Awarded

Communication Sciences and Disorders