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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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2021 New Student Conferences return to in-person delivery


2021 New Student Conferences will be held in-person with virtual options available for incoming Texas A&M students. 

As the world slowly shifts back toward normalcy, Texas A&M’s New Student Conferences will return to an in-person experience.
New Student Conferences, or NSCs, are two-day summer orientation programs required for all freshmen and transfer students. The program helps new students smoothly transition to A&M, teaching them about available campus resources and advising them on acclimating to life as a college student. This year, the conferences will be predominately in person, with virtual options for those who request it.
Director of New Student and Family Programs Emily C. Ivey said the 2021 NSCs are going to be a multi-step process, much like usual.
“Step one is what we call online orientation,” Ivey said. “We’ve been doing online orientation for about six years now. So it’s been a required component of the overall conference process. It’s a precursor to the formal NSC experience.”
The next step is attending the in-person or virtual conference, Ivey said.
The 2021 NSCs are going to be decentralized compared to previous years, Ivey said. The main goal during each conference is to never have all students, families and orientation leaders in the same place at the same time.
“We’re making progress getting through the global pandemic vaccines … but we’re not quite ready for that many people to be in one room,” Ivey said. “Students will predetermine the sessions they’re attending in advance of the conference. That’s going to help us manage capacity.”
The NSCs will have conference-style sessions that include campus resources for students and families to learn more about A&M, Ivey said. Some sessions available to students and families include fraternity and sorority life, the academic Success Center, the Career Center and housing resources.
“For those that prefer the virtual option, they can select one of two virtual news conferences … one in June and one in August,” Ivey said. “All of their content will be housed within E-Campus. They will do an orientation group meeting through Zoom and have academic college meetings, academic advising and registration virtually as well.”
Ivey said A&M wants to provide a great experience for individuals, whether they’re present on campus for the conferences or attending virtually. Ivey said the New Student and Family Programs team has been working with campus partners and the A&M community to make the NSCs as supportive as possible.
“In February, we started getting creative, because we had no idea how things were going to look in May,” Ivey said. “We were exploring; What could a virtual conference look like? What could a hybrid conference look like, where they get content online, and then they visit campus later? What could a full in-person experience look like?”
Ivey said her team collaborated with other Texas institutions and schools similar in size to A&M. Being such a large school presents specific challenges, so they wanted to explore ideas with other universities about the best practices to get new students safely acclimated, Ivey said.
NSC orientation team leader Kathryn Beebe said having virtual options for this year’s conferences is a blessing for those who need it.
“It’s very safety-minded,” Beebe said. “A&M is one of the schools that a lot of people look up to to make decisions. By offering a hybrid option, where we do have most of our NSCs in person with a few online options, it’s the best of both worlds.”
NSC orientation leaders don’t have any specific COVID-19 training but are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines, Beebe said. Orientation leaders have been continuously following these guidelines to keep their team safe, and Beebe said they will continue to do so over the summer to make sure new students and their families remain healthy as well.
“I’m definitely not going to say training for this year’s NSC was not challenging,” Beebe said. “That would take away from a lot of the patience, persistence and dedication that our orientation team has. There’s a lot of unknowns and we came in not knowing exactly what the summer it’s gonna be like.”
Though training was challenging, Beebe said everything worked out due to the orientation leaders’ patience.
“We have such a great team,” Beebe said. “This summer’s conferences will give me a broader perspective on things. We’re going to be facing challenges no matter what, and there’s going to be things that pop up no matter how intensive we train … but we should expect something great.”

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