Bobcat Student Orientation leaders perform a choreographed routine to

Bobcat Student Orientation leaders perform a choreographed routine to "Uptown Funk" during last year’s BSO.

Photographer: Rob Hardin/Ohio University Communications and Marketing

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More than 10,000 incoming Bobcats, family members to attend BSO May 31-June 25 (VIDEO)

The Ohio University community will get its first look at the Class of 2020 as the newest members of the Bobcat family and their loved ones visit the Athens Campus for a Bobcat rite of passage.

A tradition for all incoming students, this year’s Bobcat Student Orientation (BSO) kicks off for first-year students on May 31 and runs through June 25. BSO sessions for transfer students are slated for June 16-17 and June 20-21. 

According to Cimmeron O’Connor, OHIO’s director of Undergraduate Orientation Programs, approximately 4,400 first-year students and 250 to 300 transfer students are expected to participate in a total of 18 one-and-a-half-day BSO sessions, with each first-year session accommodating about 280 students. Joining those students will be an estimated 6,000 parents and family members for a total of more than 10,000 individuals visiting the Athens Campus for this annual event. 

Designed to foster academic integration and socialization, BSO allows incoming students to connect with the people and resources needed to successfully transition to Ohio University.

“We have a little motto that we teach our staff – that all students leave BSO with a complete and appropriate schedule for fall semester and a new friend,” O’Connor said. 

During their BSO visit, students have the opportunity to learn more about the history and mission of Ohio University and its curriculum, explore the campus and its plethora of resources, and interact with their fellow classmates. Student will leave the BSO experience with a schedule of fall classes and their official OHIO ID.

“We really want to make sure that students attending BSO have a successful academic transition, so they’re confident in their new schedule and excited to explore their major or explore majors that interest them,” O’Connor said. “We also want them to leave with a social connection. That’s a really big part of feeling welcome in your new home.”

BSO is also designed to welcome incoming students’ parents and family members to the University. During BSO, parents and families learn more about how they can help their Bobcat transition to college, about OHIO’s academic requirements and the numerous enrichment opportunities the University provides, and have a chance to explore their students’ new home away from home.

“We really want incoming students’ parents and families to leave Bobcat Student Orientation feeling comfortable leaving their student in our hands,” O’Connor said. “We want to make sure they know there are lots of faculty, staff and students who really care about their student’s best interest and connect them to resources to help their student transition as well.”

New to this year’s program

Ohio University prides itself on providing a welcoming environment for new Bobcats and their families and continuously seeks out ways to improve the BSO experience. 

According to O’Connor, Undergraduate Orientation Programs will be unveiling an entirely new transfer student orientation program this year. 

“We’ve been working closely with the transfer advisers in each academic college and with our transfer admissions partners to develop our program in a way that really appreciates where our transfer students are coming from in their previous college experience and how we can build upon that,” O’Connor said. 

This year’s transfer student orientation will include:

  • Programming from OHIO’s Department of Housing and Residence Life as well as Off-Campus Living
  • Sessions designed to explore the difference between transferring from a two-year and a four-year institution
  • Social activities at the Athena Cinema in uptown Athens and a campfire at The Ridges

“We really want our transfer students to leave BSO with a sense of what their new home at Ohio University will look like,” O’Connor said.

Students transitioning to their new home will quickly notice one thing about Ohio University: Bobcats recycling. 

Helping to reinforce that message, O’Connor noted that Undergraduate Orientation Programs partnered with OHIO’s Office of Sustainability for this year’s BSO.

“I’m proud to say we are now officially a Zero Waste event, which is really exciting,” O’Connor said. “We will continue to highlight the importance of recycling and caring about your environment throughout the orientation programming.”

O’Connor noted that her office has also partnered with OHIO’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion as well as faculty on campus to ensure that BSO staff, as well as staff and faculty throughout the University, understand their role in communicating Ohio University’s values to these new members of the Bobcat family. 

“We want to make sure students feel included at Ohio University, that they understand how important diversity is and how it impacts their education,” O’Connor said. “Our goal is really to ensure that everyone feels welcome in their new home.”

Heading up the BSO experience

Taking the lead in rolling out the welcome wagon for the Class of 2020 are OHIO’s four administrative orientation leaders and the 60 undergraduate students selected to serve as this year’s orientation leaders. 

“All of our undergraduate staff are really outstanding,” O’Connor said. “These students are excelling in their majors, many of them are recommended by the faculty members who work with orientation, and they all go on to do really wonderful things when they graduate. We like to call them the best and the brightest at Ohio University.”

According to O’Connor, the undergraduate orientation leaders participate in a seven-week training class for which they receive class credit and a four-day intensive training in May. O’Connor added that their training also includes some new initiatives this year, including volunteering at a local food bank, which allows for some staff bonding and an opportunity to give back to the greater community.

During BSO, the undergraduate orientation leaders guide both incoming students and their families through the BSO experience. 

“We’ve added parent orientation leaders to this year’s BSO program to enhance the experience for them,” O’Connor said, noting that the parent orientation leaders will lead parents and family members to and from each BSO session just as they do for the students. 

Incoming students and their families will also both be provided a copy of the award-winning “The OHIO Guide,” a handbook designed to help students navigate Ohio University’s academic experience from orientation through graduation. The guide has twice been designated as an “Outstanding Orientation Handbook” by the National Orientation Directors Association. 

Navigating campus during BSO

Ohio University is known for both its academic quality and its beautiful campus, and incoming students and their families will notice a few construction projects underway as OHIO builds for the future and enhances its learning and living environment. 

The largest construction projects are occurring on the Athens Campus’ East Green – on both sides of East Union Street. On the north side of the street, a $32.8 million project is in full swing as OHIO renovates and expands its Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education. Directly across the street, a $44 million project is underway to remodel both the dining venue and residence hall area of Jefferson Hall. Visitors are encouraged to avoid this area, and pedestrians are encouraged to use Morton Hill rather than Jefferson Hill.

Visitors will also notice work underway at OHIO’s center for learning and discovery – Alden Library, located on the campus’ College Green. A roof replacement project at the Library has resulted in the closure of the facility’s second-floor entrance, requiring patrons and guests to use the fourth-floor entrance off College Green.

Faculty, staff and students on the Athens Campus will notice a few changes and new faces on campus during BSO. 

Students and parents attending BSO will be utilizing parking lots on both West and South Greens. According to O’Connor, BSO participants will be parking around the Convocation Center for the first day of BSO and in Lots 51-54 on South Green during the second day of the program. 

“Parking Services has allowed us to use downloadable parking permits for BSO this year for our parents and guests,” O’Connor said, noting that in the past, parking permits were mailed to BSO participants. “We’re really excited about that as it’s a much more customer-friendly parking permit.”

And while members of the OHIO community can expect to see incoming students and their families throughout the Athens Campus during BSO, some areas of campus will see more BSO activity than others. For example, BSO students and their families will dine in OHIO’s Nelson Dining Hall. In addition, incoming students interested in experiencing residence hall living prior to arriving in the fall will be staying overnight in Gamertsfelder, Lincoln, Shively and Tiffin Halls on OHIO’s East Green. For the first time ever, the cost of overnight accommodations for BSO was built into The OHIO Guarantee, the University’s tuition guarantee program that took effect this past fall.

According to O’Connor, all of BSO’s large-group sessions are slated to take place in OHIO’s Baker University Center, with evening programming to occur on South Green’s Living Learning Center (LLC). Opened in the fall of 2015, the LLC was designed to supplement students’ living and learning experiences at OHIO and serves as a shared resource for the entire OHIO community.

“We are really excited for parents and students to see that new facility and all that it offers to students,” O’Connor said. 

For more information about BSO, visit