Congratulations, new Hawks! You are about to make Hawk Hill your home for the next four years… but now what?! How do you start your first four years here, after orientation? I have a suggestion for you: join us for AIM!! The official description of AIM is “an Early Arrival Program run by the Office of Student Success, set up to serve as an extended orientation, focused on the academic and social transition for first-year students,” but unofficially, AIM has much more to offer, with fun and friendships included!
AIM mixes getting acclimated to college life with engaging in fun outings and getting to know Philadelphia. On campus, you’ll take a tour of academic classrooms and buildings, and learn to navigate your way around campus. Off-campus events include a trip to Skyzone Trampoline Park, an evening in Philadelphia which included an outdoor movie last year, and a tour of Lincoln Financial Field, Home of the Philadelphia Eagles, Superbowl LII Champions. This year, we’ll be taking in all of the glory that is the Lombardi trophy up close and personal at the Linc, too! We also have the honor of participating in a half-day of community service at Samuel Gompers Elementary School, to give back to our community. For the past four years, AIM has been helping teachers and administrators prepare Gompers for the upcoming academic year, and our partnership gets stronger and more meaningful each year.
AIM will have 20 Student Mentors leading the AIM program for 2019, and mentors are paired up with small groups of first-year students. Each Mentor has participated in the AIM program, and 13 of our Mentors are returning, having served in the role for 1-3 years previously. Our Mentors are truly what make the AIM program so valuable, because as soon as a student shows up to college they are paired with a knowledgeable, caring, and trained Mentor whose job for the next four days is to make sure each and every student is getting acclimated, meeting new people, navigating any uncertainties together, and enjoying the start of their college career. When AIM is over, Mentors often morph into friends that continue to help students navigate their college experience. I consider Mentors to be “field experts” in all things SJU, and who wouldn’t want an expert to guide them through their college transition?
AIM is meant to fulfill the needs of any and all students who want to arrive at campus early. If you are super excited to start college and you just can’t wait to get here, join us. If you are a bit uneasy or nervous about coming to college, or someone who takes time to warm up to change, adapt to a new environment or make new friends, join us. If you want to have an upper-class mentor who helps to guide you into the transition to college, join us. If you’re interested in a service opportunity and exploring the surrounding areas, join us. There are so many reasons to come to SJU early, and AIM can fit all of those needs and more.
What I always hear from previous AIM-ers is they loved AIM because it is where they met their best friends. A large number of AIM-ers end up selecting sophomore year housing with the group of friends they met in AIM. A recent AIM Mentor applicant said, “Everyone I met in AIM are now my best friends. I’m not sure how I would have made friends otherwise, without participating in AIM,” and nothing makes me smile more than knowing that genuine friendships are fostered through our program!
The question I get asked the most about AIM, from students, parents, and university personnel is “What does AIM stand for?” And honestly, the answer is still up for interpretation. I like to put the onus on each student, to mean something to them personally, and to answer the question: what are you aiming for? For some, it could be AIM for a strong academic record, AIM to be a HAWK, AIM to get involved, etc., but for the Office of Student Success, we plan on helping all of our students AIM to be successful at SJU.
If I have you convinced that AIM is the Early Arrival program for you, please visit sju.edu/earlyarrival to apply! Applications are now open and will close on July 5, 2019, at 5 pm. I hope to see you at the Early Arrival Program move-in on August 20, 2019! 🙂
-Emily Forte, Assistant Director of Student Success and AIM Early Arrival Program Coordinator