Programming basic y2k success sdsm&t department of residence life proposed student success programming model adapted for sdsm&T by: Brian Craig Steinberg assistant director of residence life for programs march-dake hall director

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2. GENERATING IDEAS/Idea formulation

One method used to design a program or provide ideas is brainstorming.  When you brainstorm an idea, all criticism is ruled out, freewheeling is encouraged, and a large QUANTITY of ideas is the goal. Brainstorming ideas could be incorporated into the assessment of your residents needs and interests.  Brainstorming at a floor meeting is another good way to generate ideas for programs. Brainstorming is best done in small groups.  After the entire process, focus on three or four ideas and make them


Utilize the ideas from the Department of Residence Life web page.  There are many program ideas that cover many topics.  There is also a section that addresses several issues that occur throughout the year.

3. DRAFTING THE PROGRAM/Setting the date

Now you’ve evaluated the students and come up with a great idea for a program, all you have to do now is decide when to have it. 
Take each of the items that the group expressed an interest in.  Tackle one idea at a time.  Decide what needs to be done and who will complete the task.  This is a wonderful time to think about "Tackling the Topic of Leadership."  Take into consideration how developed your community is and the various skills of your residents.  Do your residents need you to provide them with direction, or could you involve your residents and coach them through what they do not know to help them plan the activity?

Set a tentative date. 
Check with the Hall Director & Hall Council to see if other activities or events are planned for that date. 
Find out what other activities (movies, concerts, etc.) may be planned for campus. 
Check a long range TV Guide or call the local stations to see if there might be a special or movie which could detract from your program.

Check around the hall to see how the residents feel about the date.

Finalize the date and STICK to it.  Confusion will result if you keep changing the date.

Do not simply ask for volunteers.  Ask residents, by name, if they will take part of the responsibility.

Take into consideration the best time of day to hold the activity.  Think about the most visible and accessible areas of the floor.  Lounges or lobbies generally have the maximum ability to attract residents.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different locations.


So now you have an idea and a date!  The next step is putting the program together.  Taking care of the details is where the work begins.  You can look upon making the arrangements as a real pain or view it as a learning experience that will help you in life.  If you take the second view you will have a much more enjoyable experience and continue to develop your skills and residents.  To ensure that your program is one of quality and success, the following is a description of the essential elements found in a quality program:

The program is publicized at least three days to a week prior to the program date.

The speaker/presenter is an authority on the subject matter or has researched the topic thoroughly.

The presentation emphasizes involvement rather than a passive attendance.

Students learn about a pertinent topic, each other, or themselves.

The program is well organized, planned, and followed through appropriately.

Arrangements should be made several weeks prior to the program.  You will avoid last minute complications and save yourself headaches by planning ahead.

A good programmer uses some sort of checklist to organize the details of the event.  On the following pages is a thorough checklist for you to follow to develop and implement a SUCCESSFUL program. 
Any program that will demand a large audience could utilize this popularity by charging a can of food or an article of clothing for the local Food Banks or a clothing drive for admittance.

5. GETTING THEM THERE/Activity Implementation/Publicity


This can make or break a program.  You may have the best idea in the world, but unless people know the 5 W’s: who, what, where, why, and when, the program may flop.  Following are some of the hints to help you when planning your publicity. 


bulletin boards

flyers or posters in unique areas (stairwell ceilings, floors, common area bathrooms "stall talk")

word of mouth

personal invitations and approaching residents personally


monthly calendars




Mention the programs during floor meetings or have them in conjunction with floor meetings. 
An unusual, gimmicky, out of the ordinary advertisement will be the most effective. You can write on balloons and tie them to residents’ doors. 

It is best to use two waves of advertisements.  The first wave should be about a week before the program so that people can plan ahead; the second wave should be three days prior to the event. NOTE: A large-scale program (i.e., semiformal, little brother/sister weekend) will need much earlier advertisement.

Place posters and flyers up at least two weeks prior to the event; add a little information at a time on the same poster.

Always remind people the day of the program. Door Knock, Door Knock, Door Knock!!!!!!!!


Develop a theme or logo and use it throughout your publicity! Picture the idea or logo all around you. You can get ideas from some of the following places: Magazines, books, catalogues, posters, newspapers, clip are, quotes, comic strips, etc.


Lettering is an integral part of any publicity campaign. It comes in many styles, sizes, and can be done in different colors depending on use.  Different types of lettering are stencils, adhesive, typeset, computer, free hand and press on.  Publicity is only as effective as you make it. Lettering allows you to capture someone’s attention.  Don’t loose that attention by CONFUSING the reader with too many different styles of letters.


The signs, posters, and flyers you design will be a vital part of your programming. Here are a few hints to make your signs more successful.

A successful sign tells the story quickly, boldly, and in a direct way.

1. Drop all extraneous matter, topics, and minor details at the outset of your planning.

2. Write down what you want to say.  Use only specific information to tell the story.

3. The type of style should be easy to read. Most people read from top to bottom. Place information in this order - important information first.

4. Make your sign an attention getter.

5. Emphasize one word to capture someone’s attention.  Make it larger; a different color; different lettering or use capital letters.

6. Space letters close together, but far enough apart that they’re still easily readable.

7. Include American Disabilities Association (ADA) accommodations: Persons with disabilities please contact (your contact #) to inform us of your special needs.  We request notification 3 working days prior to the event to enable us to assist you to the best of our abilities.


Color is very important when making signs.  Certain color combinations work better than other colors.  Here are several color combinations with the most readable colors to the least readable.

1. Purple on Yellow

2. Black on White

3. Yellow on Black

4. White on Black

5. Purple on White

6. White on Purple

7. White on Green

8. Green on White

9. Red on White

10. White on Red

11. Black on Orange

12. Orange on Black

13. Red on Green

14. Green on Red

15. 15. Yellow on White

16. White on Yellow

Where To Publicize

Be sure to check with your hall director and follow Department of Residence Life-posting guidelines.


Make sure that the following are accomplished to insure a successful program.

The person(s) in charge of the program should arrive early enough to make sure all last minute details are handled.

Make sure to meet presenters and special guests at a predetermined location to make them feel comfortable and avoid confusion.

Have someone introduce all presenters and special guests at the beginning of the program.


After the program, thank the presenter and make sure that clean up and breakdown is accomplished.

Don’t put it off until another time.

7. EVALUATION/Wrapping up: You’re done . . .

This is the most important aspect of the programming process.  The information obtained will help you in planning future activities and will aid people in the future who are considering similar events.  Evaluation should be done regardless of how formal or informal your program is.  Evaluation can come in the form of verbal feedback or written feedback. Both are effective as long as you apply it to your future activities.  There are two ways in which you should evaluate your program:

1. Formal Evaluation – Fill out a Program Evaluation form (white copy to the Office of Residence Life, Yellow copy to your hall director, and the pink copy is  for you to keep for your records.

2. Informal Evaluation - Ask program attendees what they thought.  Evaluate and critique the results with the planning committee. 
Some particular things to keep in mind when evaluating:

Don’t judge success by attendance alone.

What was the level of involvement between the audiences and the presenter?

Was the effort put into planning worth the results achieved?

Did the patrons feel it was worth their time? Money?

A good sign is when the presenter or speaker says to you "Let’s do that again sometime soon."

Since the program was started to satisfy some need that the students had, ask yourself and them if that need was satisfied.

Don’t Forget To Send A Thank You! 



1. Is there sufficient time to plan the function to insure its success?

2. Does the planned date conflict with any other campus or residence hall programs?

3. Is the desired location available on the planned date?

4. Have funds been allocated for the event?

5. Have committee work assignments been made?

6. Is the committee culturally diverse?

7. Have all of the hall executive officers and staff members been informed of the program? 

Special Arrangements

1. Have the necessary forms been submitted and approved to reserve the facility?

2. Is the facility accessible to community members with disabilities?

3. Have there been any arrangements for students with disabilities?

4. Have arrangements been made for food and beverage requirements?

5. Have required security deposits been paid?

6. Has entertainment been selected?

7. Has the entertainer contract been secured and approved through the proper channels?

8. Have arrangements been made for any special equipment needs (i.e., stage risers, lighting, dressing room, tickets, cash box, etc.)?

9. Check the Student handbook for University Requirements. 

Publicity and Promotion

1. Check with facility manager regarding any restrictions on decorating/advertising.

2. Ensure that publicity invites all community members to attend, not just those of the topic focus.

3. Plan decorations to compliment program theme.

4. Be sure advertisements do not depict persons by stereotype.

5. Are committee members assigned to put up and take down publicity, etc.? 


1. Have all arrangements been made for refreshments?

2. Has catering contract been secured?

3. Have all serving arrangements been made (set up, plates, cups, etc.)? 

During the Event

1. Be prepared to facilitate discussion, even if the group is hesitant to open up.

2. Be prepared to appropriately confront insensitive comments or behavior of participants.


1. Have individuals been assigned to a clean up committee?

2. Is cleaning equipment available if needed?

3. Check with the facility manager to know exactly what clean up procedures to follow. 
After the Event

1. Have all the bills been paid?

2. Has borrowed equipment been returned?

3. Have the facilities managers been contacted for follow-up comments regarding the event and clean up?

4. Have "thank you" notes been sent?

5. Have you conducted an evaluation of this event? 


 Program Evaluation forms are available at the Department of Residence Life (Plamerton 108).  Every effort will be made to try to get these evaluation forms on the internet for your completion. 

The Year In Programming

Students go through a number of situations and emotions during the school year.  These situations and emotions change during the course of the year.  The following are some examples of students’ needs and programming responses broken down for the months of the year.

August and September

Students’ Needs:

Roommate Conflict 
Value Crisis 
Adjustment to New Academic Environment 
Long Distant Relationships 
Financial Adjustments 
Orientation to Campus 

Program Responses:

Floor Parties 
Get Acquainted Parties 
Campus Tours 
Cook Outs 
Scavenger Hunt 
Room Decoration 
Birthday Calendar 
Roommate Conflict 
Movie Night 
Pre-game Socials


Students’ Needs:

Test Anxiety 
Stress from Midterms 
Grief from not Being Part of a Group 
Summer Pregnancies Beginning to Show 
Sexual Conflicts 
Dating/Non-dating Relationships 
Roommate Problems 
Low Self-esteem 
Homecoming Blues

Program Responses:

Study Workshops 
Pre-game Socials 
Test Taking Skills 
Study Breaks 
Human Sexuality Program 
Parenthood Planning 
Halloween Costume Party 
Alcohol Policies 
Door Decorating Contest 
Time Management Skills 
Intramural Sports


Students’ Needs:

Thoughts on Suicide 
Academic Pressures 
Pre-final Stress 
Depression and Anxiety 
Increase Alcohol Consumption 
Time Management Skills 
Roommate Problems 
Health Problems 
Lack of Friends 
Financial Distress

Program Responses:

Floor Activities 
Hair and Makeup Demo 
Nutrition and Physical Fitness 
Time Management Skills 
Alcohol and Drug Awareness 
Course Study Groups 
Tutoring Programs 
Thanksgiving Donations 
Aerobics Program at the Rec Center 
Living on a College Budget - Financial Advice


Students’ Needs:

Extracurricular Activities Time Strains 
Anxiety, Fear, and Guilt 
Academic Failure Forthcoming 
Pressure to Perform Sexually and Socially 
Little Money for Holiday Presents

Program Responses:

Food and Toy Drive 
Holiday Party 
Secret Santa 
24 Hour Study Area 
Door Decorating


Students’ Needs:

Post Holiday Depression 
Loss of Loved One Over Break 
New Student Orientation 
Anxiety About 2nd Semester Performance 
Money Problems 
Weight Gain over Holidays 
Probation Due to Grades

Program Responses:

Post New Year’s Party 
Floor Feuds 
Income Tax Preparation 
New Year's Resolution Session 
Superbowl Party 
Exercise Program 
Nutrition and Weight Control 
Women's Month Activities


Students’ Needs:

Academic Pressures 
Cabin Fever 
Summer Job Hunting 
Fall Housing Plans 
Depression Increases for Some 
Fear of "Real World" after Graduation 
Apartment Hunting 

Program Responses:

Secret Valentine's 
Things to do for Spring Break 
Student Financial Aid 
Preparing a Resume 
Job Interview Techniques 
Career Placement Center Info. 
Camping Trip 
Off Campus Housing Program


Students’ Needs:

Drug and Alcohol Abuse 
Thoughts on Suicide 
Academic Pressures 
Senior Job Hunting 
Depression Due to Separation of College Friends 
Summer Job Hunting 
Money for Spring Break 
Senior Stress

Program Responses:

Job Search Skills 
Summer Co-op 
24 Hour Study for Mid-terms 
Spring Break Ride Board 
Travel Safety 
Rape Awareness 
Drug and Alcohol Awareness 
Mid-term Study Groups


Students’ Needs:

Academic Pressures 
Frustration about Registration 
Summer Job Pressures 
Changing Majors 
Test anxiety 
Papers and Projects Pile Up 
Drop-out - Graduation 
Starting Crash Diets 
Spring Relationship Depression

Program Responses:

Cook Out 
Relaxation Techniques 
Beach Party 
Hall Banquets 
Where to Now? 
Dress for Success 
Dating Skills 
Class Registration Progra


Students’ Needs:

Senior Panic About Jobs 
Year-end Anxiety 
Depression of Leaving Friends 
Facing Conflict with Family 
Finals Pressures

Program Responses:

How to Say Goodbye Party 
Address Party 
Farewell Cook Out 
Finals Study Break 
Roommate Appreciation 
Going Home Pot luck/Good Luck Dinner 

Programming Ideas.

Social Program Ideas

Getting to know you Pizza Party.

Hold a talent show.

Take a group of residents to go bowling or shoot pool in Surbeck.

Weekend Lunch/Cookout.

Ice Cream social: Ice cream with all the toppings, hall council serves it to keep it from becoming a huge mess and it is BYOB (bring your own bowl).

Go on a trip to the cheap movies (or regular movies).

Have a common night that anyone who wants to can meet in the t.v. lounge to watch a particular t.v. show. For instance, "Friends" or "E.R." on Thursday night.  Also, plan t.v. nights on special occasions; Academy Awards, Superbowl, etc.

Decorating your Door (Holiday Themes- Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.). Can build community spirit.

Visit a skating rink.

Hold a scavenger hunt.

Hold "Study Breaks" from time to time. Use food, "caffeine break"-sodas, coffee, etc., holiday decorating (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc.), hour t.v. show, go shopping, make fudge, rice crispy treats.

Have a "movie night" every once in a while, on the floor, in a resident’s or RA’s room.

Have a monthly birthday celebration at the beginning of each month for everyone who has a birthday during that month.  Have cake, refreshments, presents, etc. Utilize the floor bulletin board, web-page, or e-mail to find out residents' birthdays.

Post, on the floor web-page or bulletin board, New Year’s resolutions by floor members.  This will help the residents help each other sustain their resolution and let them socialize also about their resolutions.

Hold an Easter Egg Hunt and other holiday events.

Coffeehouse: Hold a program that introduces residents to various types of coffee, espresso, and cappuccino. Teach them how to make the refreshments and mingle.

Hold a Cinco de Mayo celebration and incorporate Hispanic diversity awareness.

Hold a pumpkin-carving contest for Halloween. 

Educational Program Ideas. 

Have a contract renewal party for your wing.

Hold a registration information session in which an RA can explain how to register for classes to the new freshman.

Hold a "professor pick" in which students could tell each other which professors they have had, which one were good and which ones were challenging.

Car Maintenance 101. Take people to a car shop to learn basic repairs and maintenance.

Various academic programs: Study skills, time management, stress management, adapting to college life, etc.

Graduate School Information: Discussion about how to get into graduate school and the value of getting into graduate school over working and vice versa; tests and admission applications to be covered; have graduate students come in and discuss these issues.

Diet dilemmas: Have a nutritional based program that discusses the pros and cons of different eating plans and the problems associated with dieting; bring in a speaker from campus that has expertise in dieting and nutrition.

Women in the workplace: Brief discussion on the issues that women face in the workplace; possibly bring in women speakers from the community that have "real world" experience.

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