New Student Reflection

Program Overview

In 2018, with support from the Provost’s Office, the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement replaced the long-standing New Student Reader program with a New Student Reflection (NSR). NSR uses a humanities-based conversation model in which a shared source (e.g., a poem or short text) examines a pressing social issue. This reflection activity is coordinated through PACE’s Center for Civic Reflection and brings several benefits to our new student orientation activities, including:

  • A structured discussion about a source that enables participants to think and talk about their shared world and differing values and perspectives.
  • Students are not required to read or prepare before participating in the activity, which may more fully engage students since all start from the same place with the presented source. Each group has its own conversation, informed by its own experiences.
  • Modeling the type of dialogue we seek in our classrooms. The purpose is not finding “the” answers so much as exploring more significant questions and ideas.

Since establishing the New Student Reflection program, PACE has surveyed incoming students, asking them to express whether they felt welcomed, engaged, and respectful to others during the reflection. 

Read the results of the 2023 Study:

PACE works closely with the Office of Student Affairs in NSR planning. A group of students, faculty, and staff meet several times each spring to determine the topic and source for the following fall’s reflection.

The New Student Reflection program replaced the New Student Reader, a program that cost the university approximately $150,000 each year. Planning and implementation for NSR averages less than $10,000 per year. All aspects of the program are prepared and delivered within the current staffing and program bounds of the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement and the Office of Student Affairs.