Tales from Virtual Orientation | Faith Flores
In addition to the normal challenges of transitioning from high school to college, the class of 2024 must also contend with the increasingly virtual nature of education due to the pandemic. Faith Flores, a junior nursing major at UW-Parkside, is helping the newest class of Rangers adjust and prepare for their first college semester by serving as an orientation leader.
Challenges and Advantages of Virtual Orientation
As an orientation leader, Flores helps guide new students through the process of transitioning to a new learning environment and class structure, meeting with advisors, choosing and enrolling in courses, and understanding the actions they must take to succeed in college. She says that one of the more challenging aspects of being a virtual orientation leader is the lack of one on one interaction. “One of the biggest challenges for me is not being able to have that in person contact. I love helping people and being around them and showing students where things are on campus,” Flores explains.
Flores says that although this semester has presented some new and unique challenges, there are positives and even some advantages to conducting orientation virtually. She explains, “My favorite part of the online orientation is still being able to talk to others and teach incoming students about Parkside during these odd times.” She continues that in addition to having the opportunity to help guide new students through this unprecedented experience, she believes virtual orientation is beneficial to students who do not live in the immediate area. Flores says, “Students from different states have an easier time getting to orientation.”
The pandemic has forced everyone to think outside the box and implement new and creative methods to do things that may have had a simple process last year. Flores says that she is satisfied with the response from UW-Parkside and that she feels it is a situation that requires finesse and a willingness to adapt. “I don’t think there is a completely right or wrong way to deal with this situation,” Flores says.
Advice for New Students
Students do not have to face the additional challenges of their first college semester alone. Flores says that it is important for students to understand the resources and assistance available to them on campus. “I want the students to know there are resources they can go to even if they are online. Staff and faculty are here for students and want them to succeed,” she says.
She also feels that students need to work especially hard to establish a consistent pattern of positive study and time management habits. She advises, “Be sure you have a space to work on things if you have classes online. Somewhere other than your bed.” Although it may seem tempting to study from one’s bed, Flores contends that it is much easier to be productive and not be distracted if the student finds a quiet and distraction-free study environment.
Flores, like many students, is excited to start the next chapter in her academic journey and is ready to learn from the challenges that this semester will present. She states, “I’m most looking forward to my classes in Nursing. I just changed my major and I’m excited to get started.”
Coordinator of New Student Services
University of Wisconsin-Parkside