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Orientation brings Iowa to new students from the comfort of their homes

Every Hawkeye remembers their orientation experience. For most, it was an exciting time to explore the campus, choose classes, and meet fellow classmates. For this year's incoming students, however, orientation looks a bit different. Due to COVID 19, orientation has been moved online. 

Students are able to log onto MyUI and explore things such as course registration, degree audits, and schedule builder. Through daily office hours and weekly webinars with orientation leaders, students can ask questions and interact with other incoming first years.

With a few weeks to move a summer's worth of programming, Tina Arthur, the director of orientation, rose to the challenge.

“We didn’t have the luxury of time this year, so some compromises had to be made to make sure we could roll out what we needed to in the timeline we were working within,” she says.

The entire department has worked hard to create as normal of an experience as possible. Along with teaching the information typically taught during orientation, they host Hawkeye Hangouts and Iowa Scene Panels, so that students can get to know each other. CAB has also been hosting events so that incoming students can meet with current students.

Kayla Cleland, an orientation leader, says that she is proud of the department for how they have managed to put something together so quickly.

“The most important thing is that the students are getting registered and getting the information they need, and the Orientation staff was able to do that entirely online,” she says.

Although she is disappointed that orientation was not able to be held in-person this year, citing it as her “favorite part of the year,” she says that as online orientation goes on she has adjusted well and it has gotten easier. 

“We have so many online resources that make it not only possible, but efficient and enjoyable as well,” she says.

Although this year’s circumstances have been surprising, there has been plenty of positive changes that come with the switch.

“The opportunity to provide one on one advising for new students with the scheduling flexibility for both new students and advisors, an opportunity to provide additional webinars on topics to new students that in the past would have only been shown to parents,” she cites as just a few of the positive changes.

Arthur says many parents enjoy being more involved with orientation and glad they had the opportunity to connect virtually to get questions answered. 

Lastly, the changes have also provided a fresh look at orientation, and may influence practices in future years.

“We will learn a lot from this experience and hope to continue positive impacts and changes into future years of orientation,” she says.