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The New Kids on the Block

Let us now praise the Marshall staffers who make sure new students are ready for the classroom in August

August 13, 2019
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Ever wonder how new USC Marshall and Leventhal students materialize on campus every August, ready to learn? Thank members of Marshall Undergraduate Advising and Student Affairs and Leventhal Advising teams.

These are the staff members who are the first point of contact for every newly admitted student, and they work all summer to ensure these new freshmen and transfer students are set up to succeed.

Summer is anything but quiet for this team.

Immediately after commencement, many accompany rising sophomore students on their Learning about International Commerce (LINC) trips, which expose them to business practices in cities around the world. But no sooner does their jetlag wear off then they hit the ground running for their busy orientation season.

Starting June 1, there are 20 orientation sessions, both on campus and in select locations in the U.S. (San Jose, New York, Dallas and Chicago) and China (Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong). There are six freshman-only orientations, five for transfer students, and one each for international students on campus and veterans.

Staff break down each group into small groups of 6-10 students, although sometimes groups have to be bigger.

Consider: This year, 798 new students are registered for orientation.

“It’s all hands on deck,” said Daniel Choi, associate director for Marshall Undergraduate Advising and Student Affairs.  “Admissions does the work of recruitment and curates the class, and then they hand the baton to us.”

Getting your Frosh on

Orientation takes into account all incoming students. Leventhal advisors are part of the orientation for those students who have declared themselves interested in accounting.  World Bachelor in Business students—a unique program where students earn three degrees from three campuses on three continents, but start at USC, are in the regular orientation, although their sessions are led by Sean O’Connell, director of Marshall undergraduate international programs.

Not at orientation—but still in the mix of processing—are all internal transfer students—those switching to Marshall or Leventhal from another school, as well as the many business minors. There are 20 different business minors, by the way. Business is the most popular minor, school-wide, according to records.

Advisors go through each student’s record to create a course plan tailored to them. Did they take AP calculus and pass the test? Then they don’t need to take calculus at Marshall and can go directly to microeconomics. Do they want to study abroad for a semester or year? Student advisers help new students build their curriculum around that goal.

A Marshall difference: freshmen or new transfer students can enroll in core business courses from the start.

Keeping Mom & Dad in the Loop

The team at Marshall Undergraduate Advising and Student Affairs developed strategies for better informing parents, guardians, and families of all new incoming students. They are invited to the orientation sessions, but separated at one point and given parent-specific information meant to help them better understand what their students can expect in the first year, what support services are available to them, and how they can help their children succeed.

“In my interaction with parents, I urge them to continue to coach and inspire their son or daughter,” says Ellecia Williams, assistant director in the office of undergraduate advising and student affairs. “I let them know we want to empower students to create their opportunities.”

It is indeed an exhausting summer for this team. But they wouldn’t have it any other way. As any student advisor or student services staffer would tell you, it’s more than worth it to watch the students successfully navigate their first year at USC.

“Watching them learn who they are as business students is awesome,” said Choi. “Then they take the leap into their sophomore year, and you see the difference. They’ve grown into their own skin. It’s hugely rewarding.”

Marshall Undergraduate Advising and Student Affairs

Meet the Team

From left to right: Daniel Choi, Linda Mendoza Lopez, Arthur Alba, Mallika Samtani, Jeff Teng, Katrina Arce, Ellecia Williams and Zada Chio Gallardo.

Marshall Undergraduate Advising and Student Affairs

Meet the Team

From left to right: Daniel Choi, Linda Mendoza Lopez, Arthur Alba, Mallika Samtani, Jeff Teng, Katrina Arce, Ellecia Williams and Zada Chio Gallardo.