Big changes came to Concordia’s new student programs this year.
This school year, new students went through a new program to welcome them to campus. Concordia Crews, the program previously referred to as New Student Experience, launched this spring. Crew leaders started welcoming the class of 2027 and transfer students through Monthly Meet-ups, Falcon Days, and Fall Welcome Weekend.
Kara Janowski, Director of New Student Programs, and Sarah Deheck, Coordinator of Student Activities, played a big role in implementing several of these reconstructions. Additionally, the admissions team, advising department, residence life, and student success all contributed to ensure that this program would succeed at its main goal: connecting with new students.
The planning process was not quick or simple, but the common goal prevailed. Consistent and meaningful student connection was always at the forefront.
“There was a period of time where students who had decided to attend Concordia were really excited to come but then they were waiting until it was time to do things like their advising appointment, housing assignment, or orientation,” Janowski shared. “We wanted to capitalize on filling that time with fun ways to welcome students to campus early, even though they were still in high school.”
The first type of communication students receive from their Crew leader is either a text or a phone call with a simple introduction. Students first received this communication in the spring or sometimes even just a week after they enrolled. Freshman Savannah Horton notes that her early communication from her Crew Leader, Eleanor Liebherr, was very helpful. Horton had the chance to meet her Crew leader at the Falcon Day she attended in the summer. She says, “The Crew leaders, even the ones that weren’t my Crew leader, were all super helpful.”
Falcon Days were a chance for new students to come to campus prior to move-in. These days included a lot of information, and the chance to see their residence hall. Something that Janowski believed was helpful for new students was that they received their housing assignments prior to these days, meaning they got to see the hall they would live in. This is a very specific way for students to be able to visualize their life on campus.
During these Falcon Days, there was also no lack of chance for connections, whether it be with an advisor, club representatives, former students, or fellow incoming students. This is no surprise, as Janowski emphasized that connection is “the biggest driving force behind this whole initiative.”
For Savannah Horton, this connection came from asking questions to the Crew leaders. “It was really stressful because everything was so different,” she noted. “Being able to talk to somebody who lived in the residence hall that I am in now was really helpful.”
Once summer came to an end, Fall Welcome Weekend was in full swing. This weekend started with new student move-in and had fun activities, informational events, and everything in between. One of the fan favorites, which Horton also enjoyed, is the dance. Held on the Friday before school starts, students dance the night away with glow-in-the-dark bracelets and a view of Lake Michigan.
While an event like this may not seem to have obvious benefits to prep students for classes on Monday, it is a part of the weekend that builds confidence in the new students. Students eagerly participated in events and it made for a great weekend of celebration before starting a new year. This shows one of the many ways the Concordia Crews program is evolving to benefit all students.
Curious about Crews?
—Abigail McGue is a writer for The Beacon, the official student newspaper of Concordia University Wisconsin.