Orientation in the age of social-distancing


Orienting new students in the age of social distancing poses new challenges for GHC’s Office of Student Life, but the OSL is rising to meet the challenge.

Around the time that in-person classes were initially suspended due to the spread of COVID-19, a committee was formed to iron out the details for how to proceed with student orientation.

The committee is composed of Student Life Coordinator Clifton Puckett, Advising Coordinator Laura Walton, Director of Academic Success Jennifer Hicks, QEP Coordinator Elizabeth Tanner and Advisor Jillian Petro and has regularly been meeting through online means to sort out the process.

The initial process for new student orientation will remain largely unchanged: once admitted, a new student will complete the Pre-Orientation found with their Check Admission Status. This is essentially an overview of the student’s basic information and how to gain access to the school’s web services, along with some basic Financial Aid and more.

“After the student completes this, they’ll register for an orientation like normal,” said Pucket.

“We just kept the orientation sessions specific to campuses and dates like we originally had,”
Puckett said. “We chose to do this to better manage the number of students we’d be aiding through the process.”

About two weeks prior to the orientation date that the student selected, they will receive an individual email from the Student Life Coordinator on their campus. This email will have a link to a video and a digital orientation folder that has been specifically created for these orientations.

There, students will fill out a questionnaire with information about their intended major, what they plan to do with that major and how comfortable the student is with technology. Orienting students will be encouraged to watch that video and complete the attached questionnaire as soon as possible.

“About a week after this email, the student will receive either a phone call or email from an orientation leader,” said Puckett.
The orientation leader will determine whether the student has watched the video and completed the form, as well as whether the student has any questions regarding the information they will have received up to that point.

Within a few days, Puckett said that the student will receive an email from a campus-specific advisor, which will contain the student’s class schedule and a link to a Zoom meeting on the day of the orientation.

“This Zoom meeting will have a drop-in advising session if the student has questions or wants to change their schedule, a Major Exploration hosted by GHC faculty and a Student Services session,” said Puckett.

Student Life will also host a session, conducted by orientation leaders, for students to learn more about activities and things to do on-campus.

Puckett said that current plans are for incoming students to obtain their Charger ID, parking pass and orientation T-shirts during the first week of classes.

“But I’m optimistic,” Puckett said, “the week before classes we may have a day where students can come to campus and get those items and tour the campus.”