Like all areas of academic life, Boston University’s summer Orientation will look considerably different this year.
The Class of 2024’s Orientation will be fully adapted to an online format and split into four sessions throughout June, with a fifth session reserved for transfer students in July.
Each lasting two days, these sessions will be offered as both afternoon and evening programs featuring events such as “Hangout and Meet Terriers” and academic meetings with college-specific advisors.
Director of Orientation Shiney James said a fundamental effect of this year’s Orientation is that the online platform allows for a prolonged experience.
“Orientation is now not just a session,” James said, “but a variety of experiences over the summer.”
Also in the works, James said, are additions to the Orientation 2020 website providing a series of talks and other opportunities for incoming freshmen to continue learning about BU and interacting with one another.
Expanding Orientation in such a way, however, creates different expenditures that results in an unchanged price tag.
Attending this year’s online Orientation will cost the standard $315 students would have paid for a traditional experience. This set price remains part of the students’ first-semester tuition bill.
The University is also offering an Orientation experience for family members that will cost $155 for access to informational videos and live presentations, accessible through Oct. 18.
Mary Baldino, a rising sophomore in the Questrom School of Business, said she received her job as a student facilitator the Friday before Spring Recess. A few days later, a job that had once promised summer housing in Boston and a hands-on experience had changed fundamentally.
“It was sad to learn that it was going to be online,” Baldino said, “but it presented a new set of challenges that I think are super interesting to figure out how to overcome.”
While the job for this year’s student facilitators is transformed in many ways, some aspects remain untouched.
Baldino said BU will still give students the same pay promised prior to the shift to an online experience. The duration of facilitator training will also remain the same: 40 hours a week for two weeks.
Holding training sessions over Zoom serves as a way for facilitators to get comfortable with the platform, according to James.
“We’re saying, ‘Hey let’s have a conversation,’” James said. “We want to hear you laugh and see you smile. We want to hear your questions.”
Using this digital platform as a space to have meaningful conversations, Baldino said, will allow facilitators to conduct open and comfortable conversations with the Class of 2024.
Lyda Gonzalez, a student facilitator and rising sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she is grateful for the effort Orientation staff are putting in to make the experience useful for incoming students in spite of difficult circumstances.
“I know it’s not what they expected to be experiencing for their welcoming into the BU community,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone’s doing their best.”
The final day to register for orientation is May 31.
Caitlynn Tibbetts, who will attend QST in the fall, said she does not think BU is taking varied financial circumstances into consideration by maintaining Orienation’s original price.
“I definitely think it’s unfair to assume that we could still pay that amount,” Tibbetts said, “one, in the middle of a pandemic, and two, because we’re not even getting the full experience that we usually would get.”
Tibbetts is one of more than 500 people to sign an online petition on Change.org calling for the University to lower the cost of its online Orientation based on the event’s inability to provide an in-person experience.
Kasey Kirchhoff, who will attend Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation in the fall, said the extra cost for the parent Orientation is not justifiable.
“I don’t think my parents personally will want to pay that much extra money,” Kirchhoff said,
“just to be able to learn the same information that I could tell them from my personal Orientation.”