Orientation leaders prepare online experience for students and families
Virginia Tech is welcoming new Hokies and their families through an online orientation experience this summer. The university began working to implement the new format after announcing in the spring that orientation would be online in response to COVID-19.
“We have worked hard to navigate the current landscape and create a robust experience,” said Lizette Rebolledo, director of New Student and Family Programs, the department within Student Affairs that manages orientation. “We know this has been a difficult year. We wanted to try to make the experience as beneficial and meaningful as possible.”
As in years past, students can expect assigned orientation leaders, Q&A sessions, valuable content, a sense of community, and as much Hokie spirit as ever.
Orientation team members — student leaders chosen to welcome new Hokies and assist them in their transition — reached out to new students at the end of May.
“Each orientation team member will host office hours for students prior to each session. We will answer questions and get to know one another. We have also made our own Instagram accounts for our specific group numbers to help us further connect with students,” said Julia Villegas, a rising junior music education major and orientation team member.
Rebolledo sees value in providing students and families with a more personalized experience. To make this possible virtually, Rebolledo and her team have worked tirelessly to create a memorable and unifying orientation experience for all new Hokies.
“Although we would rather be together on campus, there is value in providing information to our families in a way that allows them to choose the pace and is tailored to their needs,” she said.
The experience includes pre-orientation modules, a live virtual session, and post-orientation modules. Parts of the first module were available on May 26.
Each module highlights different resources and shares important information for transitioning to and succeeding at Virginia Tech. Faculty, staff, and students from across the university, including orientation team members, members of the New Student and Family Programs team, and Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Shushok, give advice on how to dive into the Hokie experience.
From June 29 to July 28, students and families will have the opportunity to join a live virtual orientation session. Students will meet other new students, be mentored by a member of the orientation team, discover Hokie traditions, interact with the Hokie community, and hear about ways to get involved.
Students and families will also get to explore and plan their future academics. In addition to information about credit hours, choosing a major, and program requirements, students will be able to sign up for a virtual one-on-one to meet with their academic advisors at a time between June 17 and July 30. There will also be additional modules via Zoom for new Hokies to explore the collegiate academic life with modules to help them prepare for learning, including a live mock lecture and an “Ask a Professor” session.
After attending orientation, participants will complete post-orientation modules, which cover such topics as campus life and Welcome Week. Students and families can also check out the You’re In … Now What? website and resources at any time.
In addition to the modules, members of the orientation team have created virtual spaces for students to ask questions, get to know each other, and begin their social life as a Hokie.
“This year, we are putting even more focus on the students and making sure they have all the resources that they need to ask questions and get the answers they want,” said JT Faccone, a rising sophomore majoring in cinema and criminology and first-year orientation team member. “I'm really proud of everyone’s ability to adapt.”
Written by Madison Sweezy