Freshman Experience Day at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu is just one part of the school’s First Year Experience program.

The day’s team building activities include hoʻopili mai, the Hawaiian version of Simon Says, and the classic game of concentration.

“It was really funny because people were just like blurting out random stuff sometimes and everybody is fun to be around,” said incoming UH West Oʻahu freshman Kristen Maeno.

They also played other games like stepping stones, where you have to work with a partner as you leap from one place to another.

“It was a real struggle because I started to sweat a lot,” said incoming freshman Paul Alambatin. “It was actually real great because we got to associate more with our group and we bonded more.”

The goal of the event and the entire program is to prepare incoming freshman for the rigors of college life by getting them familiar with all of the services available, like mentoring and tutoring. They also get to know the campus and each other.

“It’s just really good to meet new people and be around people so that you’re not, on your first day here, by yourself,” said Maeno.

“The attrition rates of them staying in college and graduating, the rates are a lot higher when they are involved in these programs,” said Joseph Mareko, the co-coordinator of the First Year Experience program.

The importance of taking 15 credits a semester is also stressed and the program includes a freshman orientation day and a weeklong summer bridge course.

“Everyday is a different subject so we teach them college skills and prepare them to make that transition from high school learning to college learning,” said Mareko.

Freshman Experience Day is also an opportunity for the new students to meet a group of current students called PUEO leaders. A PUEO leader is a peer mentor and one is assigned to every incoming freshman for the school year.

“The PUEO leaders are great people,” said Alambatin. “They will come and help. They’re people that will be there to support me.”

That’s why the First Year Experience program was created. To support new college students so they have a better chance of becoming college graduates.

“Yah, I am really excited to just like meet new people, be around new people, take new classes and see what I want to do with my life,” said Maeno.

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