WOW!: A Look at The First Two Years of a Program like No Other

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Carroll, Kristina
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Imagine you are a first-time freshman at the one and only Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Are you excited? Are you nervous? What about? You arrive a whole week early to participate in Week of Welcome. You are kept so busy, with so many different activities both on and off campus, and meeting so many different people. By the time the first day of school comes, you are worn out, but have had one of the best weeks of your life. You feel more prepared, made tons of new friends, and experienced new places. This sounds exciting to be a part of and I can tell you from experience it is! This very basic description, however, could hold true for the very first-ever Week of Welcome, or this upcoming 60th Week of Welcome, or WOW, for short. WOW has become a monumental favorite tradition for Cal Poly and the surrounding community, but is also known nationally to be one of the largest volunteer college orientation programs in the nation.1 Freshman Orientation at Cal Poly existed previously, but became WOW officially in 1957. Why begin an official Week of Welcome? What were the original goals? In this paper, I will argue Cal Poly started a week-long orientation tradition that was designed to help new students succeed, rally the campus and community in a common goal, and create a better campus culture.