Making the move to CSUN, whether that means transferring from a community college or arriving fresh out of high school, can be daunting. That’s why the university offers New Student Orientation every summer, to equip incoming Matadors to make the big leap.
The pandemic has posed challenges to many of our face-to-face traditions, however (no in-person tours around the sprawling Northridge campus), so the students and staff at CSUN’s Office of Student Involvement and Development have found innovative ways to roll out the welcome mat to brand-new Matadors. New Student Orientation (NSO) 2020 is taking place completely online, but providing all the same vital information and resources to carry new students through their first year.
“We want students to understand that they’re not in this alone,” said Rose Merida, president of CSUN Associated Students and student coordinator for the Office of Student Involvement and Development, “that it’s their fellow students creating these events and online workshops — because we understand what it’s like to be a Matador right now. We understand what it’s like to transition your entire mindset to a semester that’s almost fully online.”
Newly accepted students will be completing two phases of orientation. The first, NSO Online, is a self-paced virtual program that covers all the basics, from course units and academic advisement to enrollment procedures and university policies. Students are already accessing the NSO Online platform, which has been live since July 15.
Justin Arbaiza, a new transfer student, said NSO was helpful for learning about resources that will enhance the online education experience, such as how to access remote tutoring through the Learning Resource Center until midnight — for when he has to pull all-nighters.
“I got a lot out of [NSO Online] and found a lot of information that I can use for my first semester at CSUN,” Arbaiza said.
A hallmark of orientation is usually meeting fellow Matadors, which will be made possible this year through the second phase, NSO Live! — a half-day interactive Zoom conference where students can learn how to get involved in their new community. It will feature guidance to access videos of various campus spots, a virtual performance of the powerful, annual tradition of TAKE (a stage production that artistically illustrates issues prevalent among CSUN students), and opportunities to interact with other students.
NSO Live! sessions, taking place Aug. 1-21, will be divided among different student groups — transfer students, international students and first-time freshmen (who are further subdivided by college) — and include information specific to each group.
Ciana Eison, another student coordinator at the Office of Student Involvement and Development, said that her team of coordinators is committed to giving new Matadors a smooth transition to CSUN’s virtual platforms, including the myNorthridge portal, Canvas and Zoom. All leaders received training on these digital resources, in order to share their expertise to the new students
Beyond NSO, Merida encouraged incoming students to attend New Student Convocation, which formally welcomes them to the community through an address from the president and an inspiring keynote speaker. The event will take place online, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 10.
“It’s a great way to meet other Matadors and hear from [inspiring] individuals that can really enhance your campus spirit,” Merida said.
To new students, Eison said, “We’re here for you, to help where we can. [Doing the semester online] is new for all of us. Sometimes we might not know all the right answers, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying.”