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KNOXVILLE — More than 3,000 students have participated in the University of Tennessee-s freshman orientation program this summer, the program’s director said Tuesday.

Marla Frisby said summer orientation, which begins in early June, offers 14 two-day sessions designed to introduce new students to the university and to familiarize them with the many aspects of campus life.

“It-s the first step in knowing what UT has to offer,” Frisby said. “Orientation is essential in helping new students become acclimated to the college environment.”

The final July session will be held this Wednesday and Thursday, July 9-10. A special one-day session will be held in August for students who were unable to attend in July.

The packed schedule starts at 8 a.m. each day and continues into the late evening hours. Students meet with advisers from their individual colleges, plan their schedules, and register for fall classes. They also attend presentations on topics like Greek life, volunteer opportunities, leadership development, and campus ministries.

Frisby said student orientation leaders play a key role in the process.

“The orientation leaders are what make the program,” Frisby said. “They go through rigorous training and meet with faculty and staff from every college on campus to prepare for this important responsibility.”

Orientation leader Ross Smith, a sophomore from Dixon, Tenn., says his own orientation experience a year ago led him to apply for the job.

“I had been accepted at Ole Miss and UT and was trying to decide which school to choose,” Smith said. “When I came here for orientation, I felt at home. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of people, and it made me want to be here.”

Two months into his freshman year, Smith applied to be an orientation leader.

“It-s a great way to give back to the university,” Smith said. “Orientation leaders are the new students’ first contact at UT. We do everything from showing them how to set up an e-mail account to explaining the dining plans and how to get football tickets.”

Two leaders work with a group of about 30 new students during each session. Smith said the small groups make it easy for incoming freshmen to communicate their questions and concerns.

“I-ve already gotten e-mails from people who were in my groups in earlier sessions this summer,” he said. “When they-re unsure about something, they know they have someone to contact.”

Student orientation includes a special program for parents. More than 4,000 parents have attended orientation events this summer, Frisby said.

Parents attend presentations on academic and extracurricular activities, and have the opportunity to talk with university administrators, faculty members, and orientation leaders.