Organizations Designed to Aid First Year Students


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Photo by Dennis Zuraw |

The Involvement Fair, last fall, saw a huge crowd in the College Avenue Gymnasium, where it was moved due to rain.


Due to overcrowding at last year’s Involvement Fair, this year’s fair is set to take place outside on the College Avenue campus on Sept. 5, said Elizabeth O’Connell-Ganges, executive director of Rutgers Student Life.

The rain date is planned for Sept. 12, and for students who cannot make it to the fair, O’Connell-Ganges said social media is a great way for them to find out about clubs and events.

With more than 400 student organizations on campus, she said more organizations than ever will be present at this year’s fair. If a specific organization a student is interested in does not exist, he or she can coordinate one.

Rutgers Student Life aims to engage students with the Rutgers community. It is comprised of four units: student centers, student involvement, sorority and fraternity affairs and the leadership unit.

O’Connell-Ganges explained that due to Rutgers’ Big Ten status, Student Life has planned more spirited events, such as student tailgates, which will take place before football games on the lawn of the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on Busch campus.  

In addition to Student Life, the University is equipped with programs and organizations designed to help ease the transition into college.

Students can also take advantage of the Rutgers Office of Academic Services. Academic advisors can help students understand their options, determine resources and identify alternatives regarding their academics. 

Lenore Neigeborn, associate dean for Academic Services, said first-year students have had a dedicated group of advisors who have been in touch with them throughout the summer. 

“There is a dedicated email address for first-year students to ask questions,” Neigeborn said. “It’s read and responded to directly by the deans for the first-year class.” 

The Rutgers Office of Financial Aid, located on George Street, is another tool students can use to help plan for college expenses.

According to the Office of Financial Aid’s website, its mission to “assist students and families in planning for and meeting expenses associated with attendance at the University.” 

The office gives scholarships, grants, loans and employment to qualified students.

While receiving financial aid, students must maintain adequate academic standards. Though it may vary, a first-year student will usually have to complete 50 percent of credits that were attempted and must have a grade point average of 1.50. 

That email is frosh@sas.rutgers.edu, she said. Special programs exist for first-year students to learn how to use WebReg, the website used for course registration.

Rutgers Residence Life, commonly shortened to “Res Life,” is an office that works to create safe and comfortable residential communities. 

According to the Residence Life website, Rutgers-New Brunswick has the second largest University housing program in the nation. 

The Residence Life staff maintains the 147 housing buildings by supervising management, up-keep and programming in all on-campus living spaces.

For non-emergency housing needs, students can fill out a maintenance request form on the Residence Life website. 

Counseling, Alcohol (and Other Drug Assistance Program) & Psychiatric Services, also known as CAPS, is a mental health service available to help manage stress and give students a positive experience at Rutgers through counseling services and educational, preventive and training programs.

CAPS has a full staff of psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, nurses and substance abuse counselors. Jill Richards, director of CAPS, is responsible for running all aspects of the organization. 

“We are continually trying to improve and expand our reach into the community,” Richards said. 

To carry out that goal, CAPS plans to run programs during Rutgers Welcome Week. 

Richards explained that students can walk into the CAPS office on either the College Avenue, Cook or Douglass campuses during the day if there is an emergency. For non-emergencies, she suggests calling the office and asking questions.

“To navigate being a new student, focus on the positive, keep expectations realistic, get organized and talk to someone if you need to,” she said. 


Jillian Pastor

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