PATEL: Orientation opportunity important for rising sophomores

Incoming+first-year+students+usually+attend+SPARK+and+fall+orientation+in+person.+Marquette+Wire+stock+photo+

Incoming first-year students usually attend SPARK and fall orientation in person. Marquette Wire stock photo

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many events this year such as summer orientation, Summer Priority Advising Registration Kick-off and fall orientation, which is called New Student, Transfer Student, and Family Orientation, for new students last summer were all changed to virtual formats. While this decision was necessary due to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, many new students missed out on the opportunity to get orientated at Marquette before their first year. 

Marquette recently announced that classes and events will be moved back in-person for this upcoming fall semester. With this announcement, rising sophomores should be able to attend SPARK or fall orientation. 

SPARK is a two-day summer orientation that normally takes place in June where students get to meet other students in their potential major and experience living in a college residence hall. Students also get to tour campus, get questions answered about campus life and pick their first classes for the fall semester. Their parents can also attend and learn more about the university at a parent orientation during SPARK. 

This last summer, however, it was all online through Microsoft Teams for two days in order to follow COVID-19 health guidelines. Students did all of their activities virtually, which didn’t provide an optimal opportunity to meet new people or explore Marquette’s campus. 

Fall orientation is an event that happens four days before classes start for all undergraduate students where new students are randomly paired to a group of twenty kids with an orientation staff leader who can help them get more adjusted to college life. Students will learn how to navigate campus, the city of Milwaukee and access campus resources such as the Counseling Center or tutoring resources at Coughlin Hall. 

Due to the pandemic, fall orientation also had to be virtual at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester except for one day where students where paired in smaller groups on their dorm floors in order to provide students an opportunity to meet in person while still following social distancing guidelines.

While rising sophomores have already gone through SPARK and orientation virtually, they should have the option to attend in-person with other new students. While SPARK will be online again this summer, there is still an opportunity to be in-person at fall orientation, as it is still unclear whether fall orientation will be in-person, virtual or both.

Instead of having the events geared towards getting adjusted to Marquette life, it should be more focused on what students can expect in their second year of college and help them start planning for future academic and career goals as well as learn how to get more involved in campus activities and student organizations.

This could also be great opportunity for students to meet other students in the same major outside of a virtual setting. By making new friends, students can easily make study groups, explore Milwaukee and find potential future roommates.

With the unprecedented campus experience the COVID-19 pandemic brought this year, Marquette should consider having SPARK and fall orientation available to rising sophomores. 

Since it may be hard for some students to attend due to personal circumstances, or simply that they may not need more support as they already feel adjusted to Marquette, these orientation events could be optional. Students should feel supported and prepared for the rest of their time at Marquette and in-person events could provide students with more resources to succeed. 

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered students’ ability to get comfortable on campus last summer and fall. As people continue to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and campus slowly moves back to more in-person events, Marquette should make sure rising sophomores receive resources to help them further in their Marquette careers, whether that means meeting new people or learning more about the opportunities the university has to offer.

This story was written by Krisha Patel. She can be reached at krisha.patel@marquette.edu