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OTR Definitions
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The NODA Board of Directors approved these definitions at the Spring 2012 Board meeting following the recommendation of the appointed task force.


NODA defines orientation as deliberate programmatic and service efforts designed to facilitate the transition of new students to the institution; prepare students for the institutions educational opportunities and student responsibilities; initiate the integration of new students into the intellectual, cultural, and social climate of the institution; and support the parents, partners, guardians, and children of the new student (CASHE, 2009). Orientation may include (but is not limited to):

  • Single or multiple day "traditional orientation programs"
  • Welcome Weeks
  • Orientation “camps”
  • Outdoor/wilderness orientation programs
  • Special-interest (e.g., community service) & special-population (e.g., student-athletes) orientation programs
  • Summer bridge programs
  • Online orientation programs
  • Parent/family orientation programs
  • Orientation courses/first-year seminars/workshop series
  • Mechanisms & strategies of communication from institutions to incoming students



NODA defines transition as the process students go through (typically lasting up to one year) when entering a particular institution of higher education and/or entering the same institution for a new purpose. This may include, but is not limited to, entering college as a first-year (freshman) student, transferring to a college from a different institution, and/or entering a college or university for a subsequent degree (e.g., entering graduate school). Successful transition results in student integration into the institution and, ultimately, in retention and/or achievement of personal educational objectives.



NODA defines retention as student progression through higher education, focusing primarily on student persistence (i.e., term to term) through the beginning of the second year at the same institution, with the goal being graduation from that institution and/or achievement of personal educational objectives. NODA believes that retention is one outcome/measure/byproduct of successful student transition, which can be facilitated by effective orientation programs and other academic and social integration processes.

1.866.521.NODA (6632) | 1200 S Washington Ave, Suite 215, Minneapolis, MN 55415