COLLEGE STATION, TX — Incoming freshmen rely on orientation experiences to register for classes, make new friends, and get acquainted with their new surroundings.
As an Aggie herself with a current student attending A&M and an incoming Freshman. Shea was excited to see her son attend his new student conference this year and indulge in that first step to the next 4 years.
”It just makes the whole experience more difficult and it would be so much better to mark off all of those to-dos in person, There's no substitute for that personal connection,” said Shea Thompson, a parent against the Virtual NSC.
There is a list of things new students accomplish at this conference such as the knowledge they gain regarding on-campus expectations, acquiring a student ID, and setting up an account with financial services just to name a few. The convenience of it all is what parents also appreciate.
While others believe the university is making the right decision by putting student's health as a priority.
”I believe that safety has to be first, I think A&M has done a very good job,” said Judy LeUnes, who supports the Virtual NSC. ”What's happening this summer with the conferences, the kids are going to survive that. They're going to have hopefully 4, maybe 5 or 6 great years at A&M and it will all be much more normal,”
A virtual registration experience is what students are expecting now. This incoming class may not receive that hands-on advising guidance that propels them into the right direction like Amy Frere’s daughter, who is now immersed in her degree.
”I don’t know what caused her to do this, but she went and met with the poultry science advisor and they absolutely clicked,” said Amy Frere, against virtual NSC.
That in-person connection changed the trajectory of her college experience, something many incoming students may not have.
Also, internet access may be difficult for some, while students will be relying on their computers and Wi-Fi to not crash to simply get through the entire experience.
“I think that certainly is a challenge that this whole COVID season has made us aware that there are a lot of communities, rural communities, isolated communities that do not have the level of access that other people have or other communities have,” said Thompson.
Students across the country have had to make difficult changes in their academic routines and Shea fears this continuation of isolated experiences, may have an effect on incoming freshmen.
“I fear what that separation will do, I think we still have yet to see how that will actually play out but I've heard from a lot of friends, who have had freshmen on campus at A&M that they’re really struggling,” added Thompson.
As of now, the new student conference will be done virtually, but according to the Texas A&M New Aggie Facebook page, come next week, there will be some changes to the new student conference as they announced it will return to normal operations with enhanced technology.
The New Student and Family Programs shared that health experts expressed by July the rate of vaccinations will be at a high enough level to allow large in-person events once again. So the incoming 2021 class will have the chance to attend an optional on-campus visit with only one guest come July.