The Perks of a Remote Orientation

28 August 2020

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Okay, you’re starting university...amidst a pandemic. It’s a lot to take in. We get that — truly. But, every year new students are nervous about starting university and, just like every year, you can participate in a variety of orientation programs that will help you feel confident about starting your academic journey.

U of A orientation programs help you get to know the student services available to you; what student groups, volunteer opportunities, or committees may be of interest to you; the campus culture and how you can help shape it; and how to navigate and adapt through the ups and downs you may encounter along your academic journey. It’s a great time to learn about how you can build online connections with your peers, receive helpful information from your faculty (if participating in your faculty-specific or professional program orientation), and learn about the student associations that represent you—the University of Alberta Students’ Union and Graduate Students’ Association. 

This is the U of A’s first official remote orientation and the lineup of activities boasts a number of virtual drop-in sessions, student panels, eClass modules, podcasts, virtual campus tours, workshops, and more. Find out more about the orientation program(s) you can participate in. 

So, let’s consider some of the perks of this year’s orientation.

  1. V.I.P. Access: Save your walking shoes for another day because you don’t need them online. You can participate from the comfort of your favourite chair, getting in an at-home workout, stretching, or snacking. Speaking of snacking, you can also squeeze in some time to become a Master Chef. Need some inspiration? Check out the U of A Campus Food Bank’s cooking sessions now! 
  2. Better Break Planning: Have you ever waited in line only to realize that the inevitable moment where you need to find a washroom has arrived? Ah yes, I think most of us have. Say goodbye to searching for a washroom without its own endless lineup! Take a pause from remote learning to attend to your needs! 
  3. F.O.M.O. No More: You know that feeling that you’ve missed out on connecting with the service providers or event session you wanted to check out because you were stalled in another session? Thankfully, remote orientation(s) hosts a number of recorded information sessions that can help alleviate these challenges, allowing you to tune in and rewatch whenever and wherever you want. Also, eClass orientation programs are a valuable resource you can go back to later in the term with asynchronous learning. What’s that, you ask? Asynchronous means the program or material is available to you to access on your own time. 

Orientation is a great chance to acquaint yourself with the many student and peer services available to you, most of which are available remotely. Reach out, even if it’s just to inquire about services you may not be ready to access at this time. These resources are here for you throughout your academic journey—whatever that looks like. Check out the Office of the Dean of Students welcome video for a great breakdown of student services available to all U of A students throughout their post-secondary studies, including those who study from the Augustana and Campus Saint-Jean campuses. 

You can also login to the U of A’s free eLearning tool to help you transition to remote learning. Modules include tips on time management, learning and studying, exams and assignments, academic integrity, and communication. Even if you’ve already experienced some online education, you may discover helpful strategies to incorporate into your remote learning practices.

Living through a pandemic can be overwhelming, unpredictable, and a tough thing to grapple with, especially when starting your studies. We hope that by reflecting on the mentioned perks and resources available, you will begin your University of Alberta journey feeling like you have the ability and supports you need to shape your experience—pandemic or not.

Katherine Zwicker, Manager, Student Affairs, Office of the Dean of Students; and Josh Connauton, Strategy Manager, Student Events & Orientation, University of Alberta Students’ Union


About the authors

Katherine and Josh co-chair the Orientation Network, a group of individuals who collaborate to provide orientation programming to meet the needs of the U of A's diverse student body.