More than 1,000 new students register

July 3, 2003

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At the Pioneer Passage, new freshman students break down into smaller groups and talk with upper-class students about what they can expect at UWP. Peer Advisor Kristin Shimpach (right) tells a groups of freshmen June 25 some of the ins and outs of the campus.

PLATTEVILLE - At Pioneer Passage, the new student registration program at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, new freshmen meet with academic advisors and upper-class students to talk about college life. They sign up for Internet and computing services, have their pictures taken for student IDs and get some last minute information on student housing and dining plans. Oh, and they register for classes too.

Over the course of 10 days in June and July, a freshman class of more than 1,000 new students will begin its acclimation to college life with the Pioneer Passage program at UWP.

"The main focus of Pioneer Passage is academics. The other part is helping them be comfortable here," New Student Registration Office and ACES Coordinator Helen Hadorn said.

A team of peer advisors, comprised of upper-class students who have been at UWP for a couple of years, is a big part of the Pioneer Passage program. They meet in small groups with new students to discuss the transition from high school to college life.

"It hasn't really hit me that I'm leaving my hometown," new freshman Ted Gilbertson said.

Pioneer Passage also gives freshmen their first opportunities to meet other new students just like them.

Many parents come with their sons and daughters, but during the academic advising process in the afternoon, it's strictly students only. While students debate the pros and cons of 8 a.m. algebra class, parents attend their own sessions and get a chance to learn more about financial aid and application procedures.

"The sooner the better" is the slogan for new students registering for classes. Almost all want to register the first day of Pioneer Passage, but for those who have to wait until later in the registration process - no big deal.

"Classes are closing, but from what I've heard I shouldn't have too much difficulty," freshman Greg Wingert said.

Other components of Pioneer Passage are varied, touching on nearly all aspects of life for a student at UWP. Peer advisors perform a skit, "Scenes from College Life," and a resource fair introduces new freshmen to a plethora of opportunities on campus and in the Platteville community. Additional sessions cover everything from student health services to dining plans.

"We try to highlight some of the things that are important for students," Hadorn said. "If they're sick, what happens? If they're hungry, where do they go to eat?" Helping new students learn the ins and outs of the campus is as important as ever at a university where enrollment has increased over the last two years.

Pioneer Passage continues July 10-11. Freshmen will continue their transition to college life Friday, Aug. 29 when UWP New Student Orientation begins.

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