This fall 56 students kicked off their academic career at Anglo-American University – 40 of them freshmen – showing right from a newly expanded two-day orientation day that the school’s expansion means XXXXL Last year’s orientation session lasted just a few hours.

The student orientation at the Anglo-American University began on August 19. Many students are grouped according to their major during orientation, receiving matching colored bracelets, which makes the process “a great way to meet fellow incoming students and the faculty,” said Patrick Engels, an international relations student.

Hanka Smidova, a first-year student, said she found the event helpful and efficient. Students were also given a program loaded with activities, both on-campus and off, intended to help them to get to know AAU rules and expectations. “It had a nice diversity,” Engels said, praising a puzzle game in which students competed by major. But others debated the efficiency of the orientation process.

Jose Rojas Garcia, a journalism student, said, “I would like to improve some other games that involved all of the groups together,” adding that some activities were too short to foster much cooperation. Student Arnold Atanesyan agreed, saying, “The orientation program should contain more interactive games.”

At AAU, as at other universities, the academic year begins with orientation day, where freshmen can get to know the campus and get acquainted with school systems. The length of the process varies widely, depending on the number of students starting at a university. Major institutions such as Emerson College welcomes over 2,000 students, providing newcomers with one week of orientation. Smaller universities find one day sufficient – although this year’s event was significantly expanded at AAU.

The student services staff could not yet say how well the different format was working. “We’re gonna put all the evaluation together and we will see how the results will come up,” said Jana Krasenska, the office’s specialist, but added, “The overall feeling is that students enjoyed it.” She explained that the rise in enrollment was not the only reason orientation was extended; the event is also aimed at showing people that student services cares about them.

Based on the last year’s evaluation, Krasenska said, “We had a feeling they need to interact more.” Thus, “We tried to put the class 2013 together – that’s why we used those outside activities.” Late intake students could not benefit from the expanded orientation day but many still said they still got to know people and were not complaining.

Krasenska said computer lab sessions were also useful for  new students, as were the newly minted “amigos,” whose job was to show new students around and lead the activities. Some new arrivals didn’t find them necessary – and Smidova called them “pointless” – but others praised the amigos as helpful. Amigos may well improve their reception next year after more practice and one of these, Vladimir Palicka, said, “I think that our presence made it easier for the students to adapt to school.”