Orientation for new students shifts to a hybrid model
Orientation for new students and families is virtual this summer. It’s also in-person for students after they arrive in August.
“The extended hybrid model allows for a more personalized, flexible, and timely experience,” said Lizette Rebolledo, director of New Student and Family Programs. “It’s a new path forward for the orientation and transition program.”
For the virtual portions, students can set their schedule and work at their own pace to get to know Virginia Tech. In-person programs during Welcome Week, Aug. 16-23, will provide both mandatory and optional programs.
In each portion, students can meet new and current Hokies, learn about ways to make the most of their time, and plan for campus and academic life. Woven into the entire experience: plenty of opportunities for students and families to ask questions and connect.
Live virtual sessions begin this month. First-year and transfer students and families can attend a daylong session between June 14 and July 23. Live sessions for international students and families are scheduled for Aug. 17-18. Academic advisors will work with students virtually during those dates to help them better understand programs and register for classes.
The daylong sessions include information on how students can create a personalized plan, succeed academically, and take care of their well-being. Other virtual components include monthly task lists with action items, panel discussions, and webinars.
Current plans for Welcome Week include optional in-person events for community-building activities and an educational series students are expected to attend. The goal is to immerse students in life at the university.
“Students can expect plenty of programs and activities,” said Chad Zoller, assistant director for transitions. “Activities will include educational programming designed to assist them in their transition to the university as well as large-scale events, such as a carnival, silent disco, and more.”
The hybrid approach is in keeping with plans for a fully in-person fall semester. The university conducted an entirely virtual orientation last summer in an effort to keep students and families safe. This year, the New Student and Family Programs team saw an opportunity to redesign portions of the experience — and how a hybrid approach could benefit new students and families.
“We are able to be more responsive,” said Jonathan Tunwar, associate director of New Student and Family Programs. “Our goal is that families have the tools they need to help their students succeed. With the hybrid approach, we can reach more families and meet them where they are.”
Doing whatever it takes to help students succeed is part of Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Shushok’s structure for student success. Student Affairs offers support in and out of the classroom, from orientation to graduation.
“The orientation and transition experience is an important part of becoming a Hokie,” said Shushok. “We want students and families to come away knowing how to access resources and with an understanding of our Principles of Community. We want them to know that we are committed to the success of each and every student.”
Student orientation team members will reach out to new students during the summer and after they arrive on campus to welcome and mentor the new Hokies. Approximately 55 orientation team members and Welcome Week student leaders will answer questions, serve behind the scenes, and shepherd new students through the process.
Sophomore Jamal Ross is excited to walk with new students on their journey and gain valuable leadership experience along the way.
“I joined the Orientation Team because I was inspired by the amazing members,” said Ross, who is majoring in political science and philosophy, politics, and economics in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “They were the first smiling faces, the first Hokies I ever met, the first to show me the ropes. Orientation allowed me to ask questions and be fully immersed in Virginia Tech’s culture and traditions. I wanted to be able to provide the same experience and feeling to others.”
Jenna Sims, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering, wants new students to “know that they have someone they can depend on if they need support from a peer.” This is her second summer as a team member.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Rachel Holloway’s advice for new students is simple and straightforward: stay open.
“Stay open to all Virginia Tech has to offer as you begin your Hokie experience,” she said. “You have time to explore majors, minors, and courses along with co-curricular experiences to build your Virginia Tech journey. Share your goals and aspirations with your academic advisors, your teachers, peer mentors, and friends through your first semester. They’ll help you to discover opportunities and to make choices along the way.”
Students and families can contact New Student and Family Programs with orientation questions and visit the You’re In… Now What? website for campus and academic resources. Students can also download the Hokies on Track app for more information about schedules and events.
Move-in is set for Aug. 14-22. Classes begin Aug. 23.