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January2012 Volume 6 | Issue 6

Dear CSU Parents and Families:

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Happy New Year and Happy Beginning of the Spring Semester!

We’re anxious to have all of the students back on campus with their energy and excitement for the spring semester.  Contrary to popular belief, Colorado State University is open throughout the entire Winter Break (except for a few days around Christmas and New Year’s Day).  Many faculty and staff members use this time to clean their offices, tie up loose ends, and prepare for spring semester.  Others of us use this time to rest and rejuvenate so we are ready for the fast pace of spring semester (it seems to whiz by much faster than fall semester for some reason).  We hope you enjoyed Winter Break and had an opportunity to spend some quality time with your student.

We want to especially welcome the parents and families of the spring start students (those new students who are just beginning their Colorado State journey this January).  Welcome to the Ram Family!  The start of a new semester often brings big plans for being more organized, more studious, more productive, and more successful.  We hope to partner with you to help your student channel those energies to create a specific action plan for the semester.  We’ve received numerous phone calls and emails from parents and family members who are concerned/upset/disappointed with their student’s grades at the end of fall semester. (Incidentally, we rarely receive calls or emails from happy parents sharing their good news about their student’s 4.0 GPA!!)  Please know lower than expected grade point averages can be a common occurrence for students dealing with the transitions of going to college. Remember your first months on a new job/in a new home.  Were you as efficient, effective, and happy as you were after being on the job/in your new home for a year?  Sometimes it takes a while to get one’s feet planted firmly on the ground and focused in the right direction. We believe support is crucial and so are consequences.  Please continue your positive messages of support and love for your student.  Balance these messages with accountability and high expectations for academic success. 

Included in this e-newsletter are tips and strategies for helping your student recover from a less than satisfactory semester.  In addition, we’re covering the upcoming Career Fair, eBilling information on FAMweb, Fort Collins Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events, and encouraging lifelong learning for you and your students. 

In closing, we’re ready for the students to return.  While we know it means a busier pace, it also means the energy, inspiration, and joy students bring make Colorado State University the best place to live, learn, work, and support.

take care,

Jody & Kacee

Jody Donovan, Ph.D.
Dean of Students/Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs
jody.donovan@colostate.edu

Kacee Collard Jarnot, M.S.
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs
kacee.collard@colostate.edu

Parent and Family Programs
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(970) 491-5312

 

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Faculty Insight: It's a Good Day When You Learn Something New

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Lifelong Learning, Credit to:  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2680

By Mike Palmquist, Associate Vice Provost for Learning and Teaching and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar

I don’t know how many times I’ve told my children, “It’s a good day when you learn something new.” Sadly, I’m not sure they’ve really heard me. They’ve spent so much of their lives learning, in and out of the classroom, that the idea that it’s good to learn something new is lost on them. Learning is just part of the scenery—a normal, everyday activity.

Those of us who are out of school, however, are likely to have a stronger appreciation for learning. Whether we’re learning a new skill that will help us in our careers, figuring out how to survive a trip down a blue run at Winter Park, or starting a new hobby, learning is something most of us enjoy. We recognize that it can help us adapt to change, reinvent ourselves, and keep us entertained.

What many of us don’t appreciate—and I include myself in this group—is the buzzword status that “life-long learning” has achieved. In everything from junk mail to radio and television ads to popup ads on the Web, we hear that life-long learning is the key to a successful career, a cost-effective way to gain a competitive advantage, the secret to saving time, and on and on and on. In effect, “life-long learning” has been defined as a commodity, and one linked far too closely to career advancement for my taste.

Frankly, these kinds of “life-long learning” opportunities seem a lot like canned spinach. It’s supposed to be good for us, but it doesn’t sound all that appetizing.

Fortunately, it turns out that we can engage in life-long learning without succumbing to mind-numbing marketing strategies. We can enroll in courses, including those offered through programs such as the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. We can engage in activities, join local organizations, get involved with online communities, take up a new sport, join a book club, start a new hobby, or pursue another degree.

The act of engaging with the new ideas we’ll be exposed to through these kinds of activities will expand our understanding of the world (another way of thinking about learning) and strengthen our intellects. Recent psychological and neurological research attests to the important effects learning—and particularly active learning—has on the mind. Learning something new keeps us sharp. It helps us remain alert and intellectually flexible. Most important, it helps us stay that way far longer than those who decide they’ve learned enough, done enough, and seen enough.

We should all embrace life-long learning. But we can do so in ways that don’t focus solely on advancing our careers. Particularly as we get older, we should all celebrate the idea that it’s a good day when we learn something new. I hope you all have plenty of good days.

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Assessment Results:  Financial Aid and Scholarships

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‘Tis the season to begin thinking about financial aid and scholarship opportunities for the next academic year.  While the priority date for submitting many materials is March 1, 2012, we want to help those of you starting the process early.  In the February newsletter and RAMFAM Association meeting, we’ll talk about important updates and things families need to know for this year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Colorado State University Scholarship Application (CSUSA), but to help you get started, we want to provide a few helpful links:

 

Lastly, Student Financial Services is always a great resource for helping students during this process.  You can contact their office at (970) 491-6321, or visit them in Centennial Hall.

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What to do with a Dismal GPA

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By Kacee Collard Jarnot, Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs

As Jody & I said in our opening letter, we’ve received a fair number of emails and phone calls from parents and family members concerned about their students’ less-than-stellar grade point averages (GPA).  We’ve shared tips individually, but want to be sure all parents and families have access to best next steps, should you find yourself in this position now or in the future.

There are many avenues that lead to a low GPA – an undiagnosed learning disability, an extremely hard class (or entire semester load), or an undisciplined student.  Therefore, it’s important to sit down and have an honest conversation about what went wrong during the semester. 

Social Life Outweighed Academic Responsibilities.  I would first ask about course load.  Were the classes too challenging, so your student used social aspects of life to help ease the stress?  Were the classes too easy, making it easy to check out via social/web outlets?  Did your student simply allow the fun to outweigh the responsibilities of college?  Is your student showing signs that he/she is just not ready?  Does your student need a ‘gap year’ or is he/she ready to commit to academics?  CSU offers so many great resources, but students have to take the initiative to seek out help.  If your student not willing to do that, he/she might not be ready to take on the responsibilities of college. 

Specifically, understanding exactly what went wrong will help your student get on the right track again.  For example, if the residence hall was a place of social engagement and not a good place to study, did your student go to the library to study?  Did he/she use TILT resources to help with challenging classes?  Would a single room help your student focus on academics?  Is that in the family budget or available through Residence Life?

If your student has had a disappointing semester, but says he/she is ready to come back to CSU and do well academically, I believe your student has to take the initiative to create an action plan with concrete things he/she will do to improve the GPA:  actual steps and not just say, “I will do better”.  A concrete plan will help you both know what it takes to be successful and will make it easier for you – and your student – to check-in to see how the semester is progressing.  I recommend this very highly because, as a freshman back in the late 90’s, I had a dismal GPA my first semester.  My dad sat me down at the kitchen table over winter break and asked me to create a list of what went wrong, resources I didn’t use, and what exact steps I would take to get back on track.  It was essentially a contract and he held me to it, telling me I would lose his financial support if I didn’t turn things around.  It was really helpful to know that he was supporting me, but also holding me responsible for my poor grades.  We were able to have many helpful conversations about my growth as a result.

Potential Undiagnosed Learning Disability.  Did your student honestly believe he/she understood the material and couldn’t understand why he/she failed a test/paper so significantly?  That could be a sign of an undiagnosed learning disability.

CSU does offer services to help students who are struggling.  Students must be willing to set up appointments and complete the programs to see results.  While the programs offered are structured, students are responsible for follow-through.  If you suspect an undiagnosed learning disability, I recommend a few things:

  • The Learning Assistance Program at CSU Health Network can help students determine if there is an undiagnosed learning disability.  The fantastic LAP staff members can help with initial screening, referrals (if appropriate) and connecting with Resources for Disabled Students if your student requires academic accommodations.  Honestly, many students are so stigmatized by the thought of needing additional resources that they can convince themselves they don’t need accommodations in the classroom.  Having a conversation with your student about how this could help before meeting with LAP staff can help him/her understand that accommodations are intended to level the academic playing field, so it could only help academically.
  • Counseling through CSU Health Network can assist students in staying focused and determining the best path.
  • Tutoring through TILT.  The key to tutoring is that students must be persistent in attending.  Many students believe one session is all that is needed to understand the material, but it’s more about continued supplemental learning with a tutor that works for them.  If your student attends and finds he/she doesn’t ‘click’ with the tutor after a few sessions, encourage your student to seek out another tutor.  TILT also offers academic skills workshops that students can attend at no additional cost. 

Student Isn’t Identifying with Their Chosen Major.  Sometimes students pick a major for the wrong reasons – he/she thought a Business major was more practical than the Art he/she loves.  Ensuring students are on the ‘right track’ and doing what they love is important to this conversation.  It’s more difficult for everyone to do things that don’t come naturally.

If you find your student is questioning his/her major, encourage him/her to set up an appointment with the Career Center.  This office offers fabulous resources to help students find a major – and career – that fits their personality, lifestyle and interests.   I also recommend advisors through the Center for the Advising and Student Achievement and some honest soul searching about what your student hoping to gain from the CSU experience.

In addition to these conversations, I also recommend calling Student Financial Services directly to understand the financial implications of a low GPA.  Because each financial package is so specific to individual students, I think it makes sense to call and learn what this means for your family financially.

Lastly, it’s important to understand academic probation at CSU.  Students with a GPA below a 2.0 will be put on academic probation with the University.  In terms of a timeline, this means students now have 2 semesters to get their GPA back up to a 2.0.  The tough part is that it’s much harder to raise a GPA than it is to lower a GPA.  My best suggestion for students on academic probation is to contact their academic advisor immediately to help with next best steps.  There are ways to ‘jump start’ the GPA building process through Repeat/Delete and other resources, but an academic advisor will be able to guide your student best on what classes to take and resources to use to help him/her raise the GPA.

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How to View Billing Information on FAMweb

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By Trish Torrez, Accounts Receivable Operations

Spring charges will be billed the week of January 17th and are due on February 10, 2012.  After selecting the Billing Information link on FAMweb, you have the following choices:

  • View Student/Commercial Account
  • Make a Payment
  • Review/Edit eCheck Information

To view recent statements or any unbilled transactions, select View Student/Commercial Account.  This screen will display:

  • current balance on the account, as of today,
  • balance as of last statement date, and
  • amount due by the current due date.

If the Current Balance does not equal the Balance Last Statement, new transactions have posted to the account since the last statement was generated.  To view these new (unbilled) transactions, select the “See Recent Activity” link after the Current Balance amount.  Scroll down to view the transactions.

To view statements for charges that have already been billed, select the “See Statements” link next to the Balance Last Statement amount.  Select the date of the statement you would like to view and then scroll down to view.  There is also a Printer Friendly icon next to the date selection if you need to print a statement for your records.

University Billing Statements are generated around the 15th of each month.  Students and their trusted individuals who have access to FAMweb will receive an email notification within two business days of the statement date that lets them know that there is a new statement to view on RAMweb (students) and FAMweb (trusted individuals).  Only accounts with an outstanding balance and/or new transactions will receive a notification.  If an account has a zero balance as of the statement date, but does have new transactions during the billing cycle, an email is still sent to these individuals for review of the transactions.

Tips for Making a Payment

After selecting the Make a Payment option from the Billing Information Home page, you will be able to see the Amount Due for the current statement cycle, and also the overall Outstanding Balance on the account. 

  • The Amount Due is the amount that must be paid by the current due date in order to avoid payment deferral charges. 
  • The Outstanding Balance may include transactions that are not yet due.  If the Outstanding Balance does not equal the Amount Due, new transactions have posted to the account since the last statement.  These new transactions will be billed in the next statement cycle and be due on the following due date.

If there is an amount due, you must enter the amount you want to pay before moving to the next screen.  Once the payment amount is entered, continue to the next page.

On the next screen, you will select your payment method.  The choices on FAMweb are:

  • Electronic check using saved bank information from a previous login
  • New or one-time electronic check payment
  • Credit card  *includes 2.25% Portal Administration Fee
  • International currency

Colorado State University’s preferred payment method is electronic check.  The advantages of paying by electronic check are:

  • Payments are not lost in the mail or mistakenly applied to the wrong account.
  • Payments credit to the student’s account within 30 minutes during business hours, or the next morning for overnight payments.
  • Payments will be deducted from your personal bank account in two business days.
  • There is no fee associated with electronic check payments.
  • Bank information may be saved for future payments in our system while credit card information is never stored and has to be re-entered with each payment.

Select your method and Continue Checkout. 

  • If credit card is selected, an estimate of the Portal Administration Fee will be presented to you for your review.
  • If New electronic check payment is selected, you will be asked to enter your bank’s routing number, checking account number, and to confirm the account number a second time.  You will have the option to save this information for future payments on our secure server, or to use it just for the current payment.  Only one bank account may be saved per email address (per login account).  If you choose to save this new information and already have a previously saved checking account, the new information will overwrite the old bank account information.
  • Electronic checks do not include check or debit cards.  Please do not attempt to enter any type of card information on the electronic check payment option.  The payment will be rejected by your bank and you may incur additional charges.

Once the payment is confirmed, a receipt will be emailed to the email address of the FAMweb user.

At any time, you may review your saved bank account information for electronic check payments by selecting “Review/Edit eCheck Information.”  You may update your bank information or delete it.  For your protection, students and other trusted individuals are not able to view the saved bank information associated with your login identity.  Only someone logged in with your email address and password can view your saved bank information.

If you are having technical issues surrounding the eBilling web pages, please email ARoperations@colostate.edu.  For questions regarding the charges on your student’s account, contact Student Financial Services at (970) 491-6321, or visit them in Centennial Hall. 

Please note, as the Spring 2012 semester approaches, phone traffic in Student Financial Services has started to increase significantly and this will continue through the February 10th due date.  Student Financial Services has many representatives trained and ready to handle the increase in call volume, but there will be some holding time.  We thank you in advance for your patience. 
 

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Spring 2012 RAMFAM Association Meetings

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RAMFAM graphic
This semester, we’ll host two RAMFAM Association meetings.  The first will be held on campus in the Lory Student Center and the second will be held in Denver at our new CSU Denver Center!  This is the first time the RAMFAM Association will do a ‘road show’ and we’re very excited to interact with Denver Area families “in your neighborhood”.  Here are the semester details:

Paying for College/Financing Higher Education & Getting to Year 2 @ CSU with the Year 2 Board
Date:  February 11, 2012
Location:  Lory Student Center, Room 214-216

This month, we’ll provide important updates and information you need to know about applying for financial aid and/or scholarships at CSU.  The Year 2 Board at CSU will also be joining us.  This inaugural group is responsible for all of the planning for Year 2 @ CSU events, including the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU conference.  This is a chance for families to interact with student leaders on campus and learn more about the transition from first year to sophomore academic status and what sophomores experience at Colorado State.  This meeting will be webcast live with blogging, as usual.

Reflections on the Year & Summer Plans
Date:  April 21, 2012
Location:  Calling all Denver Area families!  We’re coming to you via the CSU Denver Center

Come and enjoy a beautiful space in downtown Denver.  We’ll mingle, enjoy some coffee and light breakfast appetizers, and talk about the academic year.  We’ll discuss themes we saw over the academic year, give families a chance to connect and share your students’ stories, and will leave you with tips on helping your student be productive over the summer months.  This meeting will not be webcast live, but the video will be posted on the Parent & Family website for viewing afterward.

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The National Survey of Student Engagement:  Coming to Students' Inboxes Next Month!

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Heather Novak, Statistical Analyst, Institutional Research, Colorado State University

Colorado State University is committed to continuous improvement of the undergraduate experience and to helping undergraduates successfully complete their program of study.  As part of that commitment, every three years we ask students to participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). It is a brief and confidential online survey that helps us to better understand our campus environment and student behavior by asking students about their study habits, educational plans and experiences, how they spend their time, and their satisfaction with the campus, the faculty and the curriculum. While results serve as an important data source for various levels of accreditation and program review, they are most importantly used to influence campus policy.  In the past results have influenced campus conversations about diversity, experiential learning, and the availability of academic resources/support outside of the classroom. 

Next month all first-year and senior undergraduates will be asked to participate in the survey. An invitation containing the survey link will be sent to your student’s official CSU email account during the second week of February. Students completing the survey are entered into a lottery drawing to win one of 25 prizes including iPad tablets and $100 bookstore gift certificates.  We encourage you to let your student know that the invitation will be arriving soon and that his/her participation is highly valued.  This is your student’s safe and confidential opportunity to provide feedback to make CSU better for themselves and future students!

Thank you in advance for your time in discussing the NSSE with your student!

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Thinking About Moving Off Campus? Off-Campus Life Can Help

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Off-Campus Life Staff Retreat
By Adrienne Battis, Assistant Director of Off-Campus Life

As students return to campus for the Spring semester one of the questions presented to them will be if they want to remain in the Residence Halls next year.  The official room reservation process for 2012-2013 will begin in February 2012.  Should they be considering a move into the neighborhoods of Fort Collins, Off-Campus Life (OCL) is here to help in making an informed decision utilizing all of the resources available to CSU students. Over the next several months we will provide information through this newsletter surrounding upcoming events, programming and must know local ordinance information to help in making the potential transition a successful one.

  • Mid-February, all students living in the residence halls should receive in their hall mailbox a handbook titled “Off-Campus Life Student Handbook: Avoiding Sticky Situations.” The guide offers a number of helpful tips and information about moving into the community.  Topics covered include: where to search, managing a budget, negotiating a lease, roommates, utilities, safety, good neighboring tips, being aware of City Codes and Ordinances that impact students (noise, occupancy limit, nuisance gatherings, parking, snow shoveling, etc.), resources, and much more! If you’d like your own copy, check out the electronic version.
  • U+2:  Fort Collins has an Occupancy Limit Ordinance, which states that no more than three unrelated persons can live in a dwelling. As your student considers moving off campus, please help them understand this Ordinance and how it relates to their future living arrangements. 
  • Have your student use our online rental search to find a place to live. Our listings are updated daily and include vacant places as well as shared situations. There is no cost to use our service; students can view them online for free.
  • Want your student to become a Preferred Tenant?   Have them join us on Thursday, January 26th OR Monday, February 20th for a two hour Renting 101 class which will include guest speakers from Student Legal Services, Consumer Credit Counseling, and the City’s Code Enforcement office. Speakers will tackle the topics of lease-signing, budget, city ordinances, fire safety, rental housing standards, off-campus parties, renter’s insurance, and more!  At the completion of this course, each student will receive a Preferred Tenant certificate.  Students can call 491-2248 to sign up today or register on-line.
  • Like trivia? Then test your rental knowledge with some Off-Campus E-Trivia! Fort Collins has some unique ordinances when it comes to living in neighborhoods so why not test your knowledge and see if you are ready to move off campus.  These three powerpoints were designed to help students understand their rights and responsibilities as a Fort Collins resident.  The true/false and multiple choice questions are based on ordinances, myths and tips for living off campus. Categories include: Leases & Housing, City Codes and Ordinances, Roommates, Parties & Neighbors.

For other helpful information and resources to assist in a possible move off campus, please visit the Off-Campus Life website or call 970-491-2248. We are here to help your student make a successful transition to living in our great City!

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100+ Employers Looking to Hire at the Spring Job Fair - 2/8/12

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Particpants in a Recent Job Fair
By Summer Shaffer, Associate Director of Communications and Outreach - The Career Center

Spring semester is here.  As students return to campus, summer jobs, careers, and internships begin to come to mind.  Many students begin looking for summer employment to gain skills that will help build their resume.  Other students may be looking to secure an internship or career position. The Career Center at Colorado State University is committed to helping students connect with employers, as well as discover career and internship opportunities.  This year the Career Center’s Spring Job Fair includes organizations seeking seasonal, full and part-time employees, in addition to employers pursuing candidates for career positions and internships. 

There is no time like the Spring Job Fair for students to find meaningful employment possibilities.  “Our Spring Job Fair is the ideal place for students to explore a wide array of opportunities as well as identify future possibilities.  Students who wait until the end of the semester are often surprised to discover that job opportunities are more difficult to find.  Encourage your student to start now and prepare for the Spring Job Fair,” suggests Career Center Interim Director, Pamela O’Grady. 

“This year’s fair features a large number of employers with so many different job opportunities” Katrina Redding offers.  Redding also stated, “as a graduating senior I see the Job Fair as one of the best places to network with employers looking to recruit CSU students for internships and career positions, I am really looking forward to it.”

The Job Fair is on February 8, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom.  Students are encouraged to bring copies of their resumes which can be reviewed by an employer panelist or career counselor during Resume Rush from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. February 1, 2, 3, & 7 in the Career Center located in the lower level of the Lory Student Center – Room 26. 

The Career Center also offers students Job Fair preparation through their workshops where students can get first-hand advice from a career counselor and get all their Job Fair questions answered prior to attending the fair on February 8. 

For more information including a list of employers attending the Job Fair visit the Career Center online. 

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day GraphicFulfill the Dream & Share Your Voice: join us for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration!  Join the Colorado State University, Fort Collins, and Loveland communities on Monday, January 16, 2012 in showing solidarity and support for Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of equality for people of all races, ethnicities, and creeds.  

The following events have been planned by a committee of CSU students, faculty, and staff, in conjunction with the Fort Collins & Loveland communities.  We hope you’ll participate if you’re on campus, and if not, encourage your student to attend these meaningful events!

  • Community March & Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration
  • MLK Day Celebration at Thompson Valley High School
  • Film showing "Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story” 
  • "End of Racism" workshop
  • Preacher Moss presents the “End of Racism Comedy Tour" where admission is free.

Learn more on the MLK Day Celebration website.

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Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference

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By Keith Lopez, Coordinator for First and Second Year Programs, Orientation & Transition Programs, Center for Advising and Student Achievement

Orientation & Transition Programs in the Center for Advising and Student Achievement (CASA) is dedicated to assisting first year and second year students as they transition to CSU.  We strive to create quality and impactful programs including Orientation, Ram Welcome, The First Year Mentoring Program, and the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference.

February 21-22, 2012, the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference will be held in the Lory Student Center.  Getting to Year 2 @ CSU is a conference for first year students (in the second semester), which provides them an opportunity to select breakout sessions to attend throughout the day.  Sessions provide students with information and resources to assist with their transition to a second year at CSU.

Students who attend the Getting to Year 2 @ CSU Conference are more likely to be prepared to begin a second year at CSU because this conference provides students the opportunity to gain tools, knowledge, and skills to make their second year the best it can be.  Students who pre-register for the conference will receive a free “Year 2 @ CSU” shirt!  Pre-registration and more information is available online.

For more information, contact Orientation and Transition Programs at (970) 491-6011 or e-mail Keith Lopez, Coordinator, First & Second Year Programs.


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