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Stanford prepares to welcome frosh with in-person New Student Orientation

Aug. 26, 2021, 9:36 p.m.

After the Class of 2024 experienced a nearly all-virtual first year at Stanford, the University now plans to welcome frosh, sophomores and new transfer students to campus, mostly for the first time.

New Student Orientation (NSO) is students’ first look at campus life with programs and lectures to introduce students to social and academic life on campus. Families will be welcomed on the first day of NSO with the Opening Convocation Ceremony in the Frost Amphitheater, lunch in the dining hall with their students and several in-person and virtual NSO family events.

This year’s NSO will be the first University-organized in-person event for incoming students since 2019. COVID-19 restrictions forced last year’s Admit Weekend and NSO online.

In place of Admit Weekend in April 2021, the University organized Cardinal Days, with virtual events held over two weeks for admitted students.

Reflecting on her experience with Cardinal Days, Hawe Adugna ’25, an incoming frosh from Seattle, said she was glad to connect with students in her area. Adugna attended a meeting with her admissions officer and other admits from the West Coast and international locations.

While NSO is scheduled to take place in mid-September, associate dean and director of new student programs in Academic Advising Edith Wu ’99 wrote that the University has been helping incoming students prepare for campus life with blog posts about student life, Instagram posts of campus scenes and an app where students can connect and interact in addition to virtual meet-ups for incoming frosh and one-on-one calls with Orientation Coordinators this summer.

Adugna said that despite the efforts to build virtual communities, the online format of events was confusing. 

“I’ve wanted to participate in more events but it’s weird how events are advertised because there’s a ton of different websites that it could be on,” Adugna said, adding that this issue was also present during Cardinal Days as event links were hard to find and many links were only posted on the day of the event itself.

Acknowledging the setbacks of navigating virtual platforms, Wu said the University has been keeping important information in one place: “We ask students to check their Stanford email for weekly Approaching Stanford updates and log into the Approaching Stanford Canvas course for information about the requirements, campus resources, and opportunities to interact with programs and offices.”

Meanwhile, student organizations have also started reaching out to incoming frosh. Joy Molloy ’25 said she has already participated in Zoom calls with a few student clubs, including Stanford Christian Students. The events, she said, helped her understand how to get involved with these organizations come fall quarter.

Since most of the Class of 2024 has not experienced Stanford in person either, the University has also planned new programs for rising sophomores to help them “acclimate to campus life,” according to Student Affairs spokesperson Pat Harris.

These programs include all-sophomore housing, sophomore welcome events, sophomore gatherings at community centers, Sophomore 101 and Sophomore Wayfinders.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, several accommodations had to be made for NSO. According to Wu, programs will be “held in outdoor locations when possible.” Frost Amphitheater will play host to all-class programming.

Adugna looks forward to in-person NSO, her first opportunity to be on campus.

“I’ve definitely seen a couple of videos of previous NSOs that were in person and there’s lectures and things that you have to go to just for the sake of what the University wants you to get out of it,” Adugna said. “But I’m also hoping to get a grasp for what Stanford is really all about, because you can hear it from people and you can see what it’s about online, but you don’t really get to form your own perspective until you are there.”

Jenny Wu is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily’s Summer Journalism Workshop. Contact them at workshop 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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