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Tales from Virtual Orientation | Jada Peters

Published: August 17, 2020

Each semester, there is a group of student-ambassadors, known as “orientation leaders,” who help guide new students through the orientation process and prepare for their first college semester. This semester, this intrepid group of student leaders must also help the new underclassmen become comfortable with the increasingly digital landscape that the pandemic has forced higher education to become. Jada Peters, a senior communication major from Kenosha, is one of the orientation leaders this semester.

Advantages and Challenges of Virtual Orientation

Although, health and safety of the students, faculty, and staff are obviously the chief concerns behind new student orientation being moved to a virtual format, Peters believes that there are advantages to conducting orientation virtually. She states, “Students are able to sign up for classes fast and efficiently. The advisors and faculty members are consistent and extremely helpful in these times.”

However, that does not mean that it does not present challenges as well. Peters acknowledges that the early stages of a student’s college career are very important to establishing positive habits and the lack of in person instruction may make the transition more difficult for students. “The biggest challenge was not being able to meet the students in person. Face to face contact is the most effective way to introduce something new to someone,” she explains.

Peters’ continues that although she is concerned for the new students, she has faith in the network of resources available to all students at UW-Parkside. She says, “My biggest fear for these students is not being able to figure out college successfully, especially our first-generation students. But I know with the help of the outstanding retention services and involvement, it will make it a lot easier.”

Lessons from virtual orientation

Unique experiences provide an opportunity to learn unique lessons. Although this year’s new student orientation is different than in the past it can still be used as an excellent learning experience and a source of creativity when it comes to encouraging engagement. Peters recognizes this opportunity and appreciates the non-traditional activities that are possible as a result. She explains, “My favorite part about virtual orientation is the put a finger down challenge, from the popular social media platform Tik Tok, that we do as an opening activity. This challenge allows people to put their hands up and put a finger down if the scenario relates to you. It’s fun seeing their reactions to this game and seeing everyone get involved.”

 The lessons do not stop at using creativity to promote engagement. Peters claims that she has learned many things about Parkside through this experience and states that it has become her goal to actively search for ways to help others however she can. “Being a transfer student, it was a little hard getting affiliated with campus at first. Although I was hired on as a success coach and peer advisor in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs in my first semester, it was still hard to get used to it. But, the trainings I received have been educational and provided me with the knowledge of different programming, offices, faculty, staff, administrative members and more.”

She continues that some of the many other things she has learned are to speak up when she knows she can help and to never be afraid to ask questions. “The lesson I will carry moving forward is to always apply what you know. If I am educated on a subject, I’m going to share it with any and everyone who may benefit from it. I learned to always help where it’s needed. But if you don’t know, it’s always okay to ask,” Peters expands.

Peters is staying positive and looking forward to starting the semester. She enjoyed the change of pace and creativity of conducting virtual orientation but is excited to be able to get to meet all the new students in person. Peters says, “I look forward to physically being in school. I miss it so much and am excited to meet all of the new students. Also, I look forward to my involvement on campus and virtually, and working as a Peer Advisor and Orientation Leader.”

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Media contact:

Caitlin Dobson

Coordinator of New Student Services

900 Wood Road Kenosha, WI 53144

262-595-2721  |  262-595-2008 (fax)

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