The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is providing students with valuable in-person connections and guidance on campus this summer through orientation, hosted by New Student Enrollment.
After last year’s online-only orientation, New Student Enrollment staff worked diligently to provide students a typical on-campus experience this summer, something no other Big Ten school is offering.
“We are the only school in the Big Ten that’s doing a traditional in-person program throughout the summer,” said Jenni Brost, director of New Student Enrollment.
More than 70% of incoming freshmen are coming to campus to attend orientation in person. They get to know the campus, meet their future classmates and build relationships with the university community. Parents tour the campus and speak with orientation leaders about how to best support their future Huskers. At the same time, students participate in bonding activities where they will get to know their peers and potential friends.
“The in-person experience is just so much more special,” said Gracie Williams, an orientation leader and senior English language arts education major. “It allows you to make new friends, and it allows you to make those connections within your major. We like to group our new students by their major or their college group. It allows them to make those friends before they even ever have their first class… so they’re able to get that familiar face. It’s the connections that make in-person experiences so important.”
Emily Nelson, a secondary education major from Plainfield, Illinois, saw her roommate in person for the first time at orientation. The two met online in a group chat for students, where they bonded over their love for the TV show “Dance Moms.’
Nelson’s father, Eric Nelson, said that being on-campus was important enough to make the seven-hour drive.
“Everyone looks forward to that time when they go away to school for the first time, and when you experience it live and in-person and see the excitement and feel the energy, everyone walking around checking out the buildings, that was something that we did not want to miss,” Eric Nelson said.
In the wake of the pandemic, New Student Enrollment staff recognized how important it was for students to have the in-person experience — even if local restrictions were to only allow for a few students at a time.
“We decided even last winter that however many students we could see in person, we were going to do that,” Brost said. “We didn’t know what that number would be going into the summer based on directive health measures. We also put a lot of work into our online orientation, knowing that some students would have to do online orientation…we wanted to make sure that they had an option online…that was really robust and was a really meaningful experience.”
Brost said her staff’s hard work has paid off, and they have received positive feedback from orientation attendees.
“At the end of the day, parents and guests and students come up to me and are so appreciative of the in-person experience and thank us for hosting them,” she said. “It’s been so meaningful for them, and so we’ve just been so excited to host them and be a place where they can get critical information and start building their community at Nebraska.”