Like most summer activities, the way Wichita State’s campus orientation is held looks different than it has in years past. With limitations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, holding an in-person orientation for new students wasn’t possible.
The Office of Student Success will instead host summer orientation through online modules and virtual college connection sessions. Wichita State requires undergraduate orientation for incoming freshmen, transfer students, and returning or adult learners. Orientation is considered the last step of the transition into a full-fledged member of Shocker Nation.
“Even virtually, we want to provide an opportunity for students to ask their questions, get answers, and provide the information they want and need to know before arriving to campus in August,” said Shareika Fisher, assistant director of first-year programs in the Office of Student Success.
The virtual orientation, hosted through an online platform, includes a live meeting with advisors, orientation leaders and faculty from their college. These events will also include a virtual tour of campus and a how to get involved, hosted by the Student Involvement Office. These events are not required but strongly encouraged for students and parents to attend and participate in the activities.
Along with the virtual orientation, students will be required to complete three modules through an online software program, Comevo. The company specializes in assisting onboarding for institutions of higher education.
“Using the software has allowed us to care for our students the way we would in person,” Shareika said. “It’s helpful for students to keep the same process and provide minimal changes while we learn to adapt. Orientation is the same, just virtual.”
The online modules have information that would typically be provided during the in-person orientation sessions. The modules offer more in-depth information about resources (academic, health, safety conduct, billing and advising procedures) provided by WSU that did not fit into the virtual events. These required modules will be tracked for participation as the orientation requirement over the summer.
Students must complete the modules in order to fulfill the new student orientation requirement for Wichita State University. The online modules must be completed by August in order to get the hold lifted from the students’ MyWSU account.
“Everyone on campus is working hard to ensure that campus is going to be safe, have the right equipment and everything needed to resume in the fall,” Shareika said. “We all can’t wait to have students back on campus. It’s desolate and lacking the source of life our students brings.”
The piece of advice Kim Sandlin, director of the Office of Student Success, and Fisher share for new students is to frequently check their student emails.
“Most summers, you could get away with checking it once a week, but not this year,” Shareika said. “If you want the information before it goes to the media, check your inbox daily.”
Not only should new students get in the routine of checking their email, they should be familiar with the university’s COVID-19 webpage. It’s important for students to check the source of their information, reach out if they have questions and practice their critical thinking skills when discerning information.
“There’s a lot of information happening at a very fast pace. The COVID-19 page will be students’ best bet to get their concerns and questions answered quickly,” Sandlin said.
In August, when things have hopefully settled down, the Office of Student Success is tentatively planning a collection of back-to-school kick-off events. RSVPs won’t be open until July. The events will welcome new students to campus and hopefully be filled with lots of food, activities and info sessions to serve as a way to connect students and staff.
“We are doing our best to look forward during all the events that have transpired. There’s a lot of educating happening at all levels on campus,” Sandlin said. “We want to ensure our students feel taken care of, even while things are virtual.”