First year students face an unprecedented welcome week

St. Olaf’s class of 2024 experienced an unprecedented end to high school and start to college. First year orientation was virtual this year, creating a different experience for first year students.

The orientation allowed students to participate from the comfort of their home, for some making the transition to college easier, Aidan Coburn ’24 said.

This unprecedented orientation has changed the role of the Junior Counselor (JC), a part of residence life that is tasked with organizing events and being an overall support system for first year students. With social distancing policies, JCs struggled to help support students. When it came to move-in day, JCs felt uninvolved and unsure of what was happening, said Logan Graham ’22, a JC in Hoyme Hall.

One of the biggest struggles First Years will face this year is creating friendships and socializing. With the school’s policies of social distancing, students are currently unable to visit each other’s dorm building, must limit the amount of people in their rooms and always wear a mask. 

“[it is]that much harder to be engaged because you’re used to a classroom with other bodies in it,” Jacob Thomspon ’24 said. 

When asked how making friends has been, Thompson said that it, “hasn’t been a great experience,” and Coburn described it as, “a little rocky.”

The campus will move on to its next stage of quarantine Thursday, Aug. 3, which will allow students to visit each other and start activities. With this return to normalcy, First Years are confident things will straighten up. 

“I don’t know what to expect when things go back to normal, but I’d imagine we will figure things out,” said Thompson.