New Beach students SOAR through

By the beginning of the fall semester, nearly 8,000 incoming students will have passed through Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR). About 250 of these students attended Saturday’s day-long program.

SOAR is a program within Student Transition and Retention Services (STARS). The program is designed to acquaint incoming freshmen and transfer students with life at The Beach and prepare them for their semester here.

STARS/SOAR Director Kenneth Kelly said, the main goal of SOAR is to make the campus feel smaller for incoming students by allowing them to make connections with other students. Additionally, Kelly said SOAR serves simply to “acclimate every new student that comes to the university.”

SOAR advisers are largely students at Cal State Long Beach and Kelly said he has been impressed with their skills and hard work.

“They have a difficult job. It’s an art to advise,” Kelly said.

According to Kelly, there are three types of SOAR programs. One is designed for the first-time freshmen. The second is for transfer students and the third is an overnight SOAR program.

Kelly said SOAR for transfer students is major-specific in which students are advised by faculty from their major. SOAR for first-time freshmen is a more general approach. Kelly said he has found it best not to overload freshmen with too much information.

However, for some students who attended SOAR Saturday, this wish seemed like a far-off hope. Some students only seemed to know that they would be registering for classes and were unaware of other goals.

Angel Li, who plans to major in design, attended Saturday’s SOAR and seemed to want to simply get the day over with.

“I just want them to tell me what to do so I can register,” Li said.

Currently, SOAR is a voluntary program. Despite this, Kelly said there is a 94 to 97 percent attendance rate for incoming freshmen and an 80 percent rate for transfer students. Kelly said starting in 2007, SOAR will be made mandatory for all incoming students, a move other universities in the California State University system with similar programs have already made.

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