Ohio University

Students, leaders, guests enjoy return to in-person Bobcat Student Orientation

Published: June 16, 2021 Author: Isaac Miller

After taking place remotely during 2020, Bobcat Student Orientation (BSO) has returned to being a largely in-person event.

While students still have the option to complete BSO remotely, many have been in Athens over the past couple of weeks. The in-person BSO resembles pre-pandemic orientations with some additions, such as face mask requirements. Unlike past years, in-person BSO is one day instead of two, with students completing online modules before and after orientation.

“It’s really nice to actually get to talk to people in person face to face,” Orientation Coordinator Grace Fowler said. “I feel like it’s a lot more genuine, and it’s just really nice to be on campus for it, too.”

Fowler said BSO helps students learn about the tools they need to be successful, makes them feel at home at OHIO, and prepares them to be successful in college.

BSO session
Students attend an informational session during Bobcat Student Orientation. Ben Siegel/Ohio University

Students and their guests begin their orientation day at the Convocation Center by checking in outside before heading up the ramps that lead into the arena. Students like music education major Peyton Allen are excited as they ascend the ramps into the Convo. Allen said the campus is gorgeous and he fell in love with it. 

“I was originally going to be a freshman last year, but I decided to (go) this year instead due to COVID, so I’m really happy to be here,” Allen said. 

The students and their guests enter the Convo and take their seats. They are welcomed to orientation. Everyone is given the rundown of BSO COVID guidelines and what the day will include. An upbeat video introduces the leaders while playing theme songs from shows such as “Friends,” “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and “The Magic School Bus.”

After listening to presentations from University leaders, the students are divided into groups based on their programs and meet their orientation leaders while the guests remain at the Convo to learn about campus resources. The students learn about the University and how to register for classes. Orientation Leaders like Haley Janoski help the students learn about the University and campus resources. They also lead incoming students in activities to help them get to know each other. 

“It’s your first step on campus as a student taking your own initiative with either your classes or getting to know other students, and it gets you excited for the year to come,” Janoski said. 

At lunchtime the guests migrate across campus for a meal at Nelson Dining Hall. They get their food and socialize. Some families are from local Southeastern Ohio communities while others are from further away. 

Nelson Dining Hall BSO
Kaya Stone (Left) and Abi Gold (right) talk at lunch at Nelson Dining Hall during BSO. Ben Siegel/Ohio University

Fowler helps to make and present content for guests and family members so they will feel their student will be successful at OHIO.

“I know it’s exciting but also can be difficult when they have a student coming to college,” Fowler said. “If I can help assist them in whatever way I can, I really enjoy doing that.” 

Students get to socialize when they get lunch at Nelson Dining Hall. Incoming student Gwynne Kiener is happy to get to meet new people. She is from Columbus and will study creative writing. 

“I got to make some new friends, I’ve gotten to talk to my academic advisers face to face and try to figure out what’s best for my major,” Kiener said.

Kiener’s family has a history with OHIO as her parents met there and her grandfather played for the baseball team. She chose OHIO because she wanted to study and pursue writing.

Daniel Schmitz is from Westlake, Ohio, and will study business marketing. He chose OHIO because of the staff he met during a college trip and friends who recommended it. He said attending BSO allowed him to meet people and get to know them better.

“You get to meet people in person…you get to know who they are as a person and understand how the college functions a little better,” Schmitz said.

Tyler Turnbull is from Pickerington, Ohio, and is undecided on his major. He chose OHIO because it is close to home and he has family members who attended. 

“It’s just nice kind of seeing how everything operates,” Turnbull said, referring to in-person BSO.

After lunch the leaders, students and guests return to business. The guests head to the Convo to learn more about the campus and its resources. Leaders share stories about their OHIO experiences, and representatives from various departments across campus come to speak about their services. 

“Family and guests are put at ease by learning about the resources that students are provided,” Family and Guest Orientation Leader Molly Davis said. 

Julie Wilcox, the mother of incoming Bobcat Kaleigh Wilcox, enjoyed hearing the leaders talk about their first years at OHIO and things they wished their parents knew. She said it helped her to remember the first few weeks and months can be hard.

Bobcat Student Orientation visitors
From left, Kaleigh, Julie, and Tim Wilcox walk along a sidewalk during Bobcat Student Orientation. Isaac Miller

Students meet with their academic advisers to schedule their classes. They also complete an involvement calculator. Orientation Leader Emme Vair said the involvement calculator takes students’ interests and helps them find out which campus organizations are good for them. 

“It’s a really personal way to get involved with organizations here,” Vair said.

Vair guides students as they schedule classes, learn how to get involved and get to know the campus. She said orientation is a great way for students to make friends and connections. 

Students leave BSO with more knowledge. Kaleigh Wilcox, who is from West Liberty, Ohio, and entering undecided, said she learned about what she should do to make her college transition smoother. She also said scheduling classes was easy and that everyone was helpful.

BSO returning to a largely in-person event comes at a time when people around the country are trying to return to some degree of normality after a year of restrictions because of COVID-19. People from different places get to meet, make new friends, and prepare for what is ahead. Every student in attendance is preparing for one thing, which is becoming a Bobcat.