Welcome Week eases new students into college life

Students enjoy Festival at the Fountain, a new event at Welcome Week this year. It included free ice cream for new students and their families. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

Incoming Baylor transfer students and freshmen often do not just arrive with packed bags on Move-In Day, they also come with many worries and fears about the upcoming school year. Baylor hosts Welcome Week every year to help diminish these fears while allowing new students to form friendships and become acquainted with the campus.

Tripp Purks, assistant director of New Student Programs, said he is excited about a new event happening during Welcome Week this year.

“It’s called Festival at the Fountain,” Purks said, “It’s going to be really exciting for parents and students. It’s the first big event before small-group roundup.”

The new event will bring students and their families together with music, photo booths and an array of vendors serving desserts up and down Fifth Street.

“It’s never been done before and we’ve never had this beautiful fountain to work with, so were hopeful that we can gather students and their families,” Purks said.

Purks emphasized his eagerness for the new event and said he was “pumped.”

Purks said one of the most memorable moments of Welcome Week is the spirit rally at Ferrell Center. New students gather together and participate in chants, cheers and sic ‘ems.

“I always look forward to the spirit rally on Friday night,” Purks said. “There are not a lot of opportunities for all the students to have an event with the whole class just participating together and all in one place at the same time. It’s a really cool moment.”

Purks said he believes the small groups the students are placed in during Welcome Week are the most important part of the program. They were created to help students transition to college life with more ease, providing them with a group of people they can build relationships with before classes begin. The small groups range from 12-18 people, depending on how big each new student group is.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to go through all the really exciting Welcome Week events with a group of people who want to get to know you and that you can start to build relationships with,” Purks said. “Each group has two upper-classman leaders who really want to build relationships with each of the new students and can also serve as a mentor for the new students even after school starts.”

Purks said the facilitators of Welcome Week put a lot of effort into making sure the new students feel comfortable.

“Especially when we train our Welcome Week leaders, we really try our hardest to equip them to understand how to build relationships with all types of students,” Purks said. “We know when students come to college it’s a really crazy time — lots of nerves, hopes and fears swirling around for every student no matter now ready they may look look for college.”

Lott junior Elaina Graybill, a 2015 Welcome Week leader, also said she thought the small group environment helped make the new students feel more comfortable and at ease in the collegiate environment.

“One day during small group time we told life stories while playing board games in my apartment,” Graybill said. “Everyone seemed to really enjoy opening up to each other.”

Spring junior Kenna Provost, a 2015 Welcome Week leader, said she took measures to make sure that the students in her group felt comfortable.

“I gave them my phone number and email address and told them they could call or text me if they needed anything, or if they had any questions,” Provost said. “We did icebreaker games and the new students enjoyed finding out more about the other students in their group. It helped each student realize that they were not the only one feeling disoriented in college life.”

Almost everything within the Welcome Week program is designed to give new students a chance to connect with others and form lasting relationships.

“If a student can start college with a great group of friends, especially at Baylor, then they are going to be really ready to hit the ground running once class starts,” Purks said. “In the way we do things relationally, we really do put a lot of stock in how we do that. The leaders serve as pillars for what we believe success in college looks like for students.”