By Lakin Stevens, Editor of the Honors Wednesday Memo
June 30, 2021
Summer Orientation is how we welcome our incoming students to their new life in the Honors College at Appalachian. Incoming first-year students learn about Honors at Appalachian, and meet with their Honors academic mentors to begin planning their academic and professional paths. At the core of this program is our Honors College SOUL or Student Orientation Undergraduate Leader.
Honors junior Sophie Cole is serving as the Honors College Student Orientation Undergraduate Leader (SOUL) during Summer Orientation from June 3 to July 2, 2021. As a SOUL, Cole meets with students throughout the day and works in conjunction with Dean Vahlbusch, Dr. Angela Mead, and Honors academic mentors to support students. Cole helps students navigate and complete their schedules after they have met with academic mentors to get recommendations and direction.
Summer Orientation is being held virtually again this year, and includes group meetings with Dean Vahlbusch and Dr. Mead, as well as extensive one-one meetings between each student and their Honors academic mentor. It is a valuable experience for students to learn more about the Honors College curriculum and to start to develop connections to the Honors community. Being an out-of-state student, Cole remembers Honors Summer Orientation as a positive experience that allowed her to make her first connections at App State and in the Honors College. This social networking and community-building is core to the Honors College experience.
As a peer leader to incoming students, Cole creates valuable relationships and shares her experience across all areas of student and campus life. She welcomes students to reach out with any questions or concerns, or to connect and build community, even after orientation. To incoming Honors students, Cole advises,
“Honestly - ‘go do stuff!’ Whether that means attending every campus program on Sanford, hiking 10 miles a weekend, or just working on homework in your Cone floor lounge instead of at your desk. Becoming involved with the App State community can lead to some of your happiest moments and most memorable experiences - but getting involved looks different for everyone. Whatever those connections are for you, find them!”
With her major in psychology with a minor in religious studies, Cole has used her Honors experience and work as a peer advisor for the psychology department in her position as a SOUL this summer. While the academic requirements of Honors and psychology are different, the support skills translate from psychology to Honors. Building on her experiences as a SOUL and a peer advisor, Cole aspires to continue working in student affairs and higher education administration after graduation.
As an Honors student herself, Cole finds her favorite part of orientation to be “welcoming students to the Honors College who [she] had previously met during Spring Vanguard sessions for prospective students,” because it feels “so full-circle and those types of connections genuinely reinforce why I love the Honors College community so much.”
With Cole’s help, the Honors College is welcoming 155 new Honors students this Fall 2021 semester. These students represent majors and colleges across App State. As a part of the Honors experience, Honors students have the opportunity to live in Cone Hall their first year. This central location on campus is adjacent to Appalachian Hall where students will take their first year seminars, find study areas, and access the Honors Library. The residential learning environment is another aspect of the Honors College that furthers the community-building and connections started at Honors Summer Orientation.