UNC has decided to host New Student Orientation online this summer.
As of now, the details of how an online orientation will work are unclear. But Jennifer Mallen, director of New Student & Family Orientation, said planning is currently underway.
“Now that the decision to deliver a virtual orientation experience has been made, New Student & Family Programs team members are working diligently with campus partners to adapt and reimagine our New Student & Family Orientation experience for both first-year and transfer students and their families,” she said.
Mallen said her department is also beginning to think about possible adaptations to be made to the Week of Welcome and Tar Heel Beginnings programs.
The announcement came after UNC’s decision to move all summer school courses to remote instruction.
“Health and safety for everyone is top priority, and we want to do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Anna Wakita, a first-year student majoring in health policy management and an orientation leader, said. “While it’s unfortunate that the circumstances aren’t allowing for these experiences in person, we’re still committed to delivering a great first-year experience for each incoming student and are adjusting our schedules to do so.”
Having a virtual orientation will likely mean a number of differences for first-year and transfer students, including missing out on the experience of spending the night in a dorm and exploring campus.
“Initially I was disappointed to hear that orientation would be online, because I felt that being on UNC’s campus is a truly irreplaceable experience,” Kelly Kendall, an incoming first-year student, said. “However, I’m very glad that orientation is being held at all knowing that, for many of us, the transition to college may seem exciting but also daunting.”
Kendall said she expects orientation will still be able to provide her with all the information needed for the fall.
“I imagine that, for many of us, looking forward to college has been a bright spot amidst this quarantine, and it would be disappointing to have that changed, too,” Kendall said. “However, if it comes to that, I know my class will endure and come out stronger for it.”
Uncertainty surrounding what orientation for the fall semester will entail has left many unanswered questions for new students.
“It’s understandable to feel that having an online orientation will hinder that experience,” Wakita said. “It’s scary because, on top of the usual not knowing what exactly to expect in college and heading into an unfamiliar space with unfamiliar people, you’re also having to contend with an uncertain timeline.”
Darien Kenner, a first-year student majoring in public policy and business administration, is also an orientation leader.
He said he was put at ease after the NSPF office guaranteed their jobs early on.
“We do not know exactly what role we will play in this new orientation, but we have been trained on how to interact with the students and make them feel comfortable and relaxed in new environments,” Kenner said. “I can’t imagine us taking on dramatically different roles.”
Wakita said she hopes upcoming students will look forward to connecting with each other more than ever before, and that orientation leaders are a great resource to contact with any questions.
“You’re not alone, you won’t be alone in this process,” Wakita said. “There are so many people excited to meet you — including us, the orientation leaders — and I believe that having these challenges now will only make the experience more rewarding when college finally starts.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.