Summer orientation set to remain in a virtual format this year

Graphic by | Cassy Tweed

New techniques will be utilized to keep incoming students connected through Zoom

With the pandemic causing a lot of events to go virtual, summer orientation at North Dakota State is one of those events that has been affected. Last year, incoming students got to learn more about NDSU and campus life over Zoom and this summer will remain in the same format.

Alyssa Teubner, the Assistant Director of New Student Programs, explained that the decisions for orientation had to be made in January adding, “at that time there was no way of knowing how the environment with COVID would be.”

Teubner explained that there will be some in-person admitted student days open to smaller groups of students. While these groups aren’t part of orientation, they’ll still give incoming students the chance to interact with the campus.

With the virtual format of orientation comes the concern of staying involved and building connections with other students. Teubner said that since this will be the second year of virtual orientation, they have had time to prepare and adapt how they’ll run this year’s orientation.

“We obviously cannot wait for the day we get to do things in person again, but this year we’ve had a lot more time to plan and overcome the challenges we faced last year,” Teubner said adding, “We know that it can be harder to make connections virtually, and there is sometimes Zoom burnout. But many schools are doing it this way, so there’s a greater network for ideas.”

One of the new plans that will be implemented will encourage students to continue building those connections they would if orientation was in-person. Chad Littlefield, an expert in engagement and co-founder of We! Connect Cards, has worked with NDSU to help with designing Zoom sessions for the incoming students. “We do not want Zoom sessions to be styled like a lecture, so we’ve done things like bringing student organizations into host events such as bingo and trivia.”

From the preparation, new techniques will be utilized which will help further students making connections. “These techniques include polls, breakout rooms, We! Connect Cards to prompt questions for connection and more.”

Teubner said that orientation leaders also make personalized phone calls to engage in one-on-one connections with incoming students.

All of this preparation will ensure that incoming students still have an informative and beneficial orientation before they start school at NDSU.

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