MENOMONIE, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Every institution within the University of Wisconsin System has had to transition to virtual college tours and orientations.
“It was a challenge to even think about how to provide the same experience and same information to people and we honestly can’t,” said Britta Miller, UW-Stout’s New Student Orientation Director. “We had to change our mindset because we cannot make this the exact same experience as students would have on campus.”
Miller said her team had six weeks to create a virtual orientation experience. It consisted of live sessions and recordings. She said the key was to remain flexible so students and parents could watch in their own time.
“We offered a resource fair, but it was also asynchronous,” she said. “If they couldn’t make it during the live time, they could go into that fair and check out the information when we weren’t there.”
She said data shows most viewings were of the recordings and UW-Stout will likely have a virtual component to its orientations for the foreseeable future.
Sarah Korte will be a freshman at UW-Stout in the fall.
“I’m kind of scared for the classes part of it, but I’m happy that Stout has been so open about what’s going on and how we’re going to do things,” she said.
She also noted it was nice to be able to navigate orientation from her couch.
Miller said this year’s freshman class is about 100 students fewer than years past, but staff is thankful the numbers aren’t lower.
“We’re really excited that we still have those students who are excited to come to campus and excited to come to Stout and we feel good with where we’re at,” she said.
Korte said she already started packing for college weeks ago.
“I’m most excited to get to know my roommate more, even though we’ve been texting for like 3 months now,” she said.
Miller said every Wednesday through the summer, Stout will offer a virtual social event for students. She said it’s still critical for first-year students to gain that connection to other freshmen prior to coming to campus.