Some summer orientation content will move online

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled another significant student activity to find a home online -- at least partially. New Student Programs (NSP) director Sarah Merrill alerted families Monday that elements of June orientation for first-time students will be conducted online. And, to provide extra time for students to connect on campus, the NSP staff will add an optional "Week of Welcome" program to students' August move in.

Merrill said it was a difficult decision to make, but necessary for a positive move forward.

"By making this decision now, we'll have more time to develop a top-notch experience for our students," she said.

University leaders signed off on the NSP proposal late last week.

June and August components

New students will be invited to complete some orientation tasks online, at their own pace but within a June 1-26 window. Family members also will have access to many of the online materials. When students have completed the online content, covering topics such as ISU campus resources and effective planning for college, they'll schedule a virtual appointment with their academic adviser and, subsequently, register for fall classes.

"It takes the entire campus community to provide a meaningful orientation for 14,000 people, an experience that confirms for our students and families they have made the right choice," Merrill said. "We are so grateful to our campus partners – in the academic division and in student affairs – for being open to another new twist this spring. We will move forward together."

New students -- and family members -- will be invited to arrive early on campus for welcome activities Aug. 17-19, prior to the annual Destination Iowa State days Aug. 20-22. Traditional June experiences moved to August will include academic orientation sessions, resource fair, campus tours and student ID cards. Students who participate in the three welcome days also will have the option of moving into campus housing earlier, on Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 15-16.

Merrill said her team will spend this month developing virtual programming and determining logistics for June and August. In early May, they'll be ready to share details about orientation and the additional welcome event.