New Student Orientation moves online for the summer


In addition to holding small group sessions through Google hangout the Office of Student Engagement will also provide an information module for first-year students to learn more about campus and college life. Photo credit: Briana Ryan

Briana Ryan, Editor-In-Chief

The class of 2024 will experience their new student orientation in a way that previous classes have not— fully online.

Traditionally, first-year students and their families would flock to Marywood’s campus for a weekend in July for summer orientation; however, due to COVID-19 the university has decided to move orientation online this summer. Office of Student Engagement Director Michael Kalage described this decision as difficult but necessary.

“Everyone in the office gets excited about this every year so this is something that we didn’t want to do,” said Kalage. “However, we knew that this is something that we needed to do in order to protect our students.”

To help run summer orientation the Office of Student Engagement hires a group of students each year to serve as Orientation Leaders and Orientation Team Leaders.

According to Orientation Co-Chair and Sophomore Architecture Major Andy Mathieu the decision was made to make being an orientation leader an option, as opposed to being mandatory, due to the time commitment under these circumstances. However, despite this move Mathieu said most of the students who were hired have decided to continue their work this summer.

“Out of the 50 or 60 people we originally hired we lost only about 10 or 15 so I was really happy to see that,” said Mathieu. “All the Orientation Leaders and Team Leaders have really been stepping up which is helping everything to run smoothly.”

Traditionally, during new student orientation students would be divided into small groups. Most of these groups are comprised of students within similar majors and are led by Orientation Leaders. The purpose of these groups is to help students get to know others from their class.

To move this portion online Orientation Leaders are currently scheduling Google Hangout meetings with the new students based on each group’s availability.

Orientation Co-Chair and Senior Early Childhood Education and Special Education Major Taylor Yacuboski said she believes moving small groups online may be beneficial in helping new students get to know each other better.

“Since we’re starting these meeting now the new students are meeting even earlier than they would be meeting each other,” said Yacuboski. “We’re hoping that students will be carrying on talking to each other outside of these meetings to help form friendships.”

To further help create connections among students the office is using social media platforms such as a private Facebook group and a GroupMe chat.

Another traditional aspect to summer orientation is information sessions that students and their families can take part in to learn more about campus and college life. To move this experience to an online platform the office has created an information module that will be emailed to the students in early July.

Students will be able to sign into it with their Marywood email address and password. Parents will also be able to access it through a “guest” login.

According to Kalage the office is also looking into ways to provide fun bonding activities to first-year students over the summer.

“This semester we had a lot of experience with virtual programming like the trivia nights, so this is something that we want to offer to new students,” said Kalage.

Kalage said one concern he has with moving online is that new students may not be able to feel the Marywood atmosphere, but believes students working on orientation will be able to help prevent that.

“Part of what makes Marywood so special is that our campus feels special,” said Kalage. “One of the reasons why it feels that way is because of our students so we think that the virtual small groups will help with that.”

While many summer orientation activities will move online Kalage said his office will also look into planning some activities during welcome weekend.

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Twitter: @BrianaRyanTWW