NSU’s Freshman Connection virtual sessions start this week

Freshman Connection 2020 at Northwestern State University kicks off this week. The first three sessions of Freshman Connection will take place online May 21, May 28 and June 17. During the sessions, incoming freshman can meet with small groups, hear from administrators and attend interest sessions of their choice.

The virtual sessions will take place through WebEx, NSU’s video conference partner, and users will need access to a phone, tablet or computer with good connectivity. Information will be emailed to students with instructions on how to download the app and proceed to the schedule events.

“Freshman Connection helps incoming students transition from high school to college through meetings with small groups, talking to advisors and making friends with future classmates,” said Vanner Erikson, director of First Year Experience and Leadership Development.

Check-in begins at 8:45 a.m., followed by a welcome at 9 a.m. and N-Side group meetings at 9:15 a.m. An academic assembly will take place at 10:45 a.m., followed by lunch break at 11:15 when students can visit with their Freshman Connectors and ask questions over lunch. Starting at 12:30, students can explore their choice of interest sessions, depending on their interests and/or concerns, such as academic advising, Greek life, student success, part-time jobs, campus security, first-generation college success, accessibility and disability support, ROTC, financial aid, living on campus and student banking, along with meetings for student-athletes, marching band members and spirit groups. The session will conclude with a Questions and Answer forum.

“We have set up an online booking system with advisors that puts students in one-on-one meetings with advisors virtually via Microsoft Teams. We have been advising and registering all Session 1 and 2 students, and we’ll move on to the rest in June,” said Katarina Haymon, assistant director of First Year Experience. “Incoming students will be able to participate in a series of engaging virtual small group sessions where they will meet classmates and get questions answered. Academic advising and registration will be designed with each student’s individual goals in mind. By the end of Freshman Connection, participants will be ready for the fall semester.”

Parent Connection will be held simultaneously and will focus on tips for parents on supporting new students as they transition to college, discussions and interest sessions, Erikson said.

Parents can follow a schedule similar to their student’s with sessions that address transitioning to college life, academic goals, banking, financial aid and a panel that will address social issues, time management, budgeting and adjusting to university life.

“Academic deans, directors, and department heads have worked collaboratively with the First Year Experience team to provide customized, one-on-one academic advising and registration for incoming freshmen,” said Dr. Greg Handel, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Through bookings, students schedule a meeting with their academic advisor, talk about options, are provided information about their major, and are then able to register for classes. This opportunity gives students the opportunity to be guided through the process, but also empowers them in their first steps with being part of our system. Students have the opportunity to look at Degree Works, which is a repository that allows advisors to place advising notes and shows both advisors and students the percentage of completion toward their degree.”

Students who need assistance with technology issues, should email or call the Student Help Desk at (318) 357-6696.

An in-person Freshman Connection on the Natchitoches campus is tentatively set for July 9, but plans could change. Additional virtual sessions are planned for the Alexandria campus on Tuesday, June 23, at the Shreveport campus on Thursday, June 24 and at the Leesville campus on Tuesday, June 30. Erikson urged students to continue to check their email for updates.

Erikson said the face-to-face games and activities that are normally the highlight of Freshman Connection will be part of Freshman Connection 2.0, an early move-in experience planned for Aug. 12. This will include the Freshman Follies, organization browse, pep rally and other activities.

For more information, contact Erikson at eriksonv@nsula.edu or Haymon at haymonk@nsula.edu.