Transfer Student Interview. Past Community College AS President becomes University WOW Orientation leader.
Meet Sandra Robles, a community college student from Canada College in Redwood City, who went on to transfer to Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. While at Canada, she first started with biology thinking that she would go down the pre-med route. However, she soon found out that it wasn’t the right major for her. After biology she studied business administration and was supposed to transfer to SF State as a business major. Although she enjoyed many aspects of business she still felt like there was something missing. After taking a communications class she knew she had finally found the right major. Now she is a Communication Studies major at Cal Poly and couldn’t be any happier or sure that she is in the right major.
While at Cañada, Sandra was a senator and president of the Associated Students of Canada College. As her past student government advisor, I’ve stayed in touch with her over email and Facebook. Recently, I saw her post about being a WOW orientation leader. Intrigued, I Googled Cal Poly WOW Orientation and discovered that the WOW stands for Week of Welcome at the office of the Dean of Students who oversees orientation and has developed a 5 Stages of orientation programming to prepare incoming freshmen and transfer students to the university.
After researching their orientation programs, I wanted to learn more about what motivated Sandra to volunteer to be an orientation leader and if these programs helped her transition from the community college to the university. Here is what she had to say.
1) Sandra, how did you learn about the SOAR & WOW Programs?
When I accepted admission to Cal Poly I was prompted to attend both events. Due to scheduling conflicts I was only able to participate in WOW. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was but the advertising made it look like fun.
2) What motivated you to join and become a WOW Leader?
By the time my WOW week was over I had become the best of friends with the people in my group. We were from all different majors and would have never met if we hadn’t participated in WOW. Our WOW leaders were amazing and I saw how hard they worked to make sure we had an amazing experience. They also went out of their way to make sure that everyone was included. The activities we participated in, like WOW-O-RAMA, really helped to bring everyone’s guard down and helped make me feel like a part of a community. By the end of the week I knew I wanted to do what my WOW leaders did for me and help other transfer students make an easy transition.
3) Did you have an interview?
There was no formal interview. Everyone was welcome to participate; however, we were assessed for participation and integrity throughout the ten week leadership training. All leaders in training had to schedule a meeting with their group facilitator to check in and make sure that they were in good standing for completing the training.
4) Is it a paid position or volunteer? What is your official title?
SOAR is paid and WOW is voluntary. Our official orientation titles are WOW Leaders.
5) How much time did the position take? Is it all summer?
To become a SOAR or WOW leader you must attend Spring training every Tuesday night for 10 weeks from 7PM – 10PM. During these trainings we learn about program expectations, talk about many issues that may arise leading a group of incoming students and ways to deal with this. We also played games, sang songs, and dressed up as a different theme every week. Dressing up added an element of fun and excitement to each meeting. Some of the themes we dressed up included Toddlers and Tiaras and mythical creatures.
Over the summer yourself and your co-leader must devote some time to planning and organizing your Week of Welcome. This includes planning every minute of every day for the entire week and calling to make reservations for any activities you would like to do. It is a pretty time intensive commitment but everyone is excited to do it because the end results are going to be very rewarding!
6) What did you cover in orientation training?
In orientation training we covered a different topic each week. The topics ranged from drugs and alcohol to sexual abuse and everything in between. Aside from serious subject matter there were other weeks that focused on leadership building such as how to facilitate a group discussions and learning games that are fun to play in groups. One week we spent the night learning about the history of Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo. All the material we covered in training is intended to be information that WOW leaders can pass on to incoming students in order to help them prepare for the transition.
7) When did you have your Welcome Week?
WOW occurs the week before school starts in September. Activities are scheduled Monday – Friday from 8AM to midnight and although the activities are not mandatory, all students are encouraged to participate in as many activities as possible.
8) Your WOW Week is coming up soon, what are you most excited about?
The Week of Welcome in which I will be leading a group in has not happened yet. I am still in the process of planning out my week with my co-partner and I am so excited for all the possibilities. The most exciting thing about being a WOW leader is that we really are the first exposure these students have to Cal Poly and the San Luis Obispo community. As WOW leaders we have the privilege of scheduling a week with activities that we think are really cool and that we think others should experience as well.
9) Why do you think transfer orientations are important to attend?
I think that participating in orientation programs is a great way to make the transition process easier. It is also a great way to get to know people from different majors you may not have met otherwise. I know that if I had not participated in WOW week I would have showed up to school the first day and would have felt so lost!
10) How has getting involved at the University compared to getting involved at the community college?
The biggest difference between getting involved with extracurricular activities at community college and a University is the size. From my experience, I saw a lot of overlap of people between clubs at community college. My community college was fairly small so it felt like everyone knew everyone. At the University level there are so many more people that you can join different clubs and never see the same people. It is pretty cool because you can meet so many different people!
11) What advice would you give to a future transfer student?
My advice to any incoming transfer student would be to PARTICIPATE IN ORIENTATION PROGRAMS! They are such a great way to meet people, especially in the beginning when you are just starting to establish yourself. Also, be open to meeting all kinds of people because when you transfer you will meet so many new people who are much different from you and come from all sorts of backgrounds. Lastly, have fun and enjoy your college experience!