July 12, 2010
Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
ATLANTA - When asked why Georgia State was her No. 1 choice for a university, incoming freshman Nina Walker excitedly listed GSU's location in the city, the diversity of the student body and the business program's strong reputation.
Outwardly, the 17-year-old appeared eager to leave her Alpharetta home and ready begin at GSU. But even she admitted she was nervous with the classic freshman questions: Who would she room with in the Freshman Hall? How will she find her way around campus? What will her schedule of classes be like?
Walker's questions - like those of many other incoming students- were answered by attending Incept, the university's official undergraduate orientation program. The all-day event covers everything from a tour of campus, to sessions on student involvement and study skills, as well as small group advisement.
"If I didn't come here, I would have been so lost," Walker said as she ate lunch with her newly found roommate and group of friends. "Incept answered so many of my questions. I'm now counting down the days until college starts."
Many incoming students are anxious over the transition from high school to college life, which is why GSU created the Incept program 40 years ago. The university continuously expands and updates the program to meet the needs of incoming students, said Matthew Robison, assistant dean of students and head of Incept: New Student Orientation at Georgia State.
"When students come in, they might be scared or worried about classes or meeting people," Robison said. "Hopefully after Incept, a lot of their anxiety and fears about being at a big urban campus in downtown ATL will be subsided. And they leave excited, pumped and ready to jump into campus life and the GSU community."
Over six weeks this summer, nearly 3,000 freshmen, 1,000 transfer students and 2,700 parents and guests will participate in the Incept program. The university hosts 15 freshman one-day conferences with 200 students each day and two freshman overnights, where incoming students stay in the University Commons. There are also five sessions for transfer students.
Colleges throughout the country offer orientation programs, but Georgia State's Incept is unique because it gives incoming students numerous options. Unlike other institutions, Incept sessions are offered throughout the summer, so not to impose on families' summer plans, Robison said.
GSU also offers the orientation in a one-day visit and an overnight stay. For freshmen, Incept is mandatory and for transfer students, it's highly recommended.
"It's one of the few experiences that every freshman student has," Robison said. "It's a shared experience across the entire class. That's pretty powerful."
Incept starts with campus tours led by Inceptors, who are some of Georgia State best and brightest students. Nearly 100 GSU students applied for the 17 Inceptor positions, which are considered one of the premier student involvement opportunities at the university.
Rising sophomore George F. Baker III was thrilled to be named an Inceptor for 2010. Baker said his orientation guide did a great job calming his nerves before he started college and he wanted to do the same thing for others. Not only is Baker passionate and knowledgeable as an Inceptor, he also gives each student the amount of time he or she may need.
"One kid was nervous and listless at the beginning of the day," Baker said. "I gave him my personal attention and now he e-mails me all the time and I answer his questions. I feel like I'm making a difference. I love it."
After the tours, incoming freshmen participate in a slew of sessions on the academic core curriculum, student involvement opportunities, housing, campus safety and how to be successful inside and outside the classroom. The incoming students then go to a marketplace where they can ask specific questions about financial aid or other services, and get their student identification cards made.
The Incept day ends with small group advising that allows students to pick classes and make their schedules, and possibly select a Freshman Learning Community. GSU offers about 45 Freshman Learning Communities, which are communities of 25 students taking a cohort of five classes together that are tailored to a particular theme, such as art, science, business or law.
But Incept isn't just about the incoming students. Sessions are tailored to parents to answer their questions and provide information about how to support their students from afar.
"At the end of the sessions, parents come up and thank you for easing their fears or concerns, and answering their questions," said Inceptor Kiersten Smith, a sophomore from Rome, majoring in psychology. "Knowing they walked away a little less nervous about coming to Georgia State makes it all worth it for me. "
The next big step for the class of 2014 is Freshman Convocation at 3 p.m. on Aug. 22, a ceremony presided over by GSU President Mark Becker where they are formally inducted into the academic community. Freshmen receive a medallion and take the freshman pledge, an oath that holds each new member of the GSU family to the highest of academic standards, to be respectful of fellow students and be a productive and active member in the community of scholars on campus.
"The energy and excitement is really palpable, especially at the beginning," said Kyle Stapleton, interim coordinator for Incept. "They are super pumped to start college at Georgia State and begin something new."
For more information on Incept, visit http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwnsp/dates.htm