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The Court of North Carolina is empty on Thursday, March 26, 2020 after NC State University limits its operation due to the recent outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in North Carolina.

New student and transfer student orientations look different this year. Instead of the day and a half long in-person experience, orientation for incoming students was shortened to a virtual half-day program to continue NC State's social distancing policy. 

The entire program, administered via Zoom, was four hours long and available for both students and family members. Students selected their orientation date based on their academic college, ranging from June 19 to July 17, the same as previous years. 

Student leaders, advisors and other guests, including future teaching assistants, are helping lead students through sessions and introduce them to their program. Rhodelle Beatrice, a third-year transfer student studying communication with a concentration in media, attended the June 19 orientation.  

“I definitely felt very welcomed, and they were trying to get us to engage as much as they could,” Beatrice said. “The student leaders were also super nice and welcoming and they made you feel like you were part of the pack.”

Beatrice also said that she liked the interactive poll activity segment of virtual orientation where students answered amusing questions such as “is a hot dog a sandwich?” These transitions prompted entertaining conversations that made students feel more connected in the online environment and limited some awkwardness that came with navigating virtual first impressions. 

Ashlyn Walton, a second-year transfer student studying political science with a concentration in law and justice, said orientation leaders gave participants the option to have their camera on or off according to their comfort level.

Walton said that she chose to have her camera on because she wanted people to recognize her, however other students opted to have their cameras off or to set NC State themed backgrounds that were sent out through email before orientation.   

“If someone sees me around on campus, I want them to be like ‘hey we were in the same orientation group.’ Even if it was online, it’s a good outlet to reach out to people and find people that you have something in common with,” Walton said.

Orientation programming is designed to welcome students into NC State and provide specific information and answer questions about the degree program they will be enrolled in. 

“Learning about what State holds for political science really made me happy and made me truly happy in my decision of where I’m going,” Walton said. 

Traditionally, orientation entails a great deal of walking around campus in order to visit buildings and facilities. While students may have not gotten as much of a feel for campus and directions to places, Walton said she cannot deny the advantages that the online format has to offer. 

“It was definitely nicer not having to walk around for like fourteen hours in the heat,” Walton said.

As classes and many events moved online this year, many transfer students were impressed with NC State’s ability to adapt and deliver quality experiences.

“I thought that the way it was executed was done pretty efficiently and they gave us the information we needed, so of course I would have liked it in person but they did it very well,” Beatrice said. “Overall it definitely got me thinking about State again because during this whole time there’s been nothing to do—it did give me a glimpse of hope.”