Northern State University in Aberdeen will take some of its freshman orientation program online. Virtual events will begin in May to prepare new students for college life.
NSU usually holds five or six orientation days – or HOWL Days, which stands for Helping Our Wolves Learn. Justin Fraase is director of communications and marketing for the school. He says each one attracts up to 80 incoming freshman students. Typically they visit campus, register for classes and get acclimated.
Fraase says there are still a few in-person HOWL days scheduled for later this summer.
“We hope these on campus events occur, but I think we’re under the assumption they won’t," he says. "We hope we’re wrong. But this online version is gonna be a very nice supplement to fill that gap at this point.”
NSU will hold the virtual orientation sessions like an online class. Students can access it in May and through the rest of the summer.
“We want to try to get as many students into this virtual option as possible just to get them registered. And if we do by chance have these on campus events in the summer, students are welcome to participate in both.”
Fraase says the virtual sessions are a chance for staff to answer individualized questions, but that may be tricky in a pre-produced online event. He uses financial aid as an example.
“Probably means we’re gonna have to have a standard presentation with a very direct call to action of ‘Please reach out if you have additional questions regarding your specific situation.’ And frankly with COVID we expect there to be a lot of additional questions in terms of financial aid and what financial appeals may look like.”
Despite the move to online sessions, Fraase believes the pandemic is highlighting the benefits of on-campus and in-person experiences.
Students can registration for the virtual HOWL Day now on NSU’s website.