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Next Normal: College Orientations Offer Online and In-Person Options

Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 10:24 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - It’s the first taste of college life for many incoming freshman — orientation. But how schools are doing that has changed.

What may be traditionally a large event at college campuses is now available completely online.

“We wanted to, with appropriate social distancing, offer both an on-campus experience as well as a virtual experience,” said Claire Mizell, the director of admissions at TJC.

Both UT Tyler and TJC are offering online and in-person orientation options. At TJC, the online option is a live stream of the in-person event.

“You’re participating in real-time with our Apache chiefs and with our students in the audience,” said Mizell. “It’s the exact same experience, just in a different setting.”

At UT Tyler, it’s an online program you can go through at your own pace.

“Students have the option to go through each topic, at their own convenience, but there is also an opportunity for them to engage with our orientation leaders, in case they have any questions or concerns about the upcoming school year,” said Joshua Neaves, the director of student engagement at UT Tyler.

“This year’s orientation is more focused on the students, we’re going up there and talking to them most of the time compared to last year,” said Larry Adisa, an orientation leader for TJC. “They get that first-hand feel of what we went through, so there’s more time we can resonate with the students coming in.”

For in-person orientations, masks are highly encouraged and social distancing is required.

“Masks are not required, but they are encouraged if that would make you more comfortable,” said Mizell. “Seats are in sets of two and they’re all six feet apart. We’re only allowing 30 students per session, with one guest.”

“For our in-person session everyone is social distancing, we’re limiting the number of people per session,” said Kyleigh Havir, a TJC orientation leader. “It’s a very personal experience, with not too many people, so you can get questions answered because we know a lot of people have questions now.”

“When they get inside the University Center Theater, we have assigned seating where they’re spaced out; no one is close to one another,” said Neaves. “They still get the same experience as they have in years past.”

Hand sanitizer is a popular swag item for in-person groups and online groups will get items mailed to them.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure they have the best experience possible and feel safe, whether it’s in-person or online,” said Neaves.

Both schools are having advisors reach out, individually, to help students who participated in online orientation register for their fall classes.

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