[caption id="attachment_14671" align="aligncenter" width="940"] via shu.edu[/caption] T.V. shows and movies can make the initial college experience intimidating, especially if you compare it to movies like “Neighbors.” Yet fictional and real-life college experiences both include college involvement and meeting new people. Seton Hall tries to make the experience of meeting new people and being part of the college community a bit easier, especially for freshmen. That is where the First 56 Days program, an initiative to help freshmen get more involved at Seton Hall, comes in. The first event of the program starts the night when the freshmen move in and will usually last until mid-October. “We plan these programs to help all students get involved and engaged on campus,” said Jessica Proano, assistant director for the first year experience of housing and residence life. “We hope that these programs help the overall retention of the university and build a strong community on campus.” Proano plans the overall programming initiative and works with resident assistants (RAs), offices and clubs on campus to host events. “Based on nationwide research, it was mentioned that if a student can be connected to campus life within the first few weeks of their first year in college they are more likely to remain in college and excel,” Joshua Reda, a residence hall director, said. These events and programs can be hosted with the help of the Student Activities Board (SAB), Career Services, Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE), Campus Ministry, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and other groups who want to be involved. These events can range from athletic events, trips to Red Bulls games, Mets games, paintballing, rafting, theatre shows and campus scavenger hunts, Proano added. The RAs host two programs which are listed on the First 56 Days calendar. “They [RAs] are a central part in helping to provide in-hall programs and even help chaperone some events,” Reda said. This is also a chance for students to acquire study tips, learn how to do laundry, and through the help of additional events, learn how to get around the South Orange area, use the NJ Transit to travel, and meet new people as well as make connections. However, freshmen are not the only ones who can participate in the First 56 Days. Sophomores, juniors and seniors are welcome to join in on the fun, said Reda. “I love the first 56 Days. It’s a busy time of the year, but it’s my most favorite. I really enjoy watching students make connections and learn new skills,” Proano said. Students can learn more about the program through calendars which are posted on the back of all the doors in the first-year housing area and flyers which are put up in both the upper-class and first-year building, Proano explained. Additionally, there are social media platforms and emails sent out which discuss the upcoming events and programs that are hosted through this initiative. “It’s a great chance for any student to try something different, do something fun and get involved on campus,” Reda added. The program initially started as being titled, the First 40 Days, but in 2011, housing decided to change it to the First 56 Days so as to root it in tradition, as SHU was founded in 1856. Nisha Desai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Housing facilitates student engagement, retention rate on-campus