Twitter and Orientation

One of the first things I did after starting my NODA internship was volunteer to help with social media in the office. Managing social media accounts and engaging with students online is something I love to do, and I try to create these opportunities (and be helpful) whenever I can!

YFY

This year, instead of creating a Facebook page and Twitter account for SOAR 2013, the office used the @UNCGYFY or Your First Year accounts.

We enhanced our tweets about SOAR with a hashtag. Find out what hashtag your students are using. Our office decided to use #UNCG17 for our tweets about SOAR. We answered questions that students were asking about SOAR via that hashtag. Don’t overload or spam a hashtag, but if the content is relevant for a specific hashtag definitely use it.

At the beginning of the June sessions we added a picture taking opportunity to the first small group script. At the end of the small group the SOS (Spartan Orientation Staff member) would take their group somewhere nearby for pictures. Students were very creative and we were able to retweet the picture (whether it came from an SOS or a new student). This activity allowed us to share SOAR content with the Twitter community and create a lasting photo memory for these students from SOAR. I wish I had a picture from my Orientation session in 2008!

The social media chair (a returner SOS) organized a Twitter competition each session. He asked the students to follow us and tweet their best picture to our account, and they awarded a gift certificate to the student with the winning picture at the evening session.

Lastly, some numbers to be proud of:
On May 13 the UNCGYFY Twitter account had 202 followers.
On July 10, after 8 SOAR Sessions during the month of June, the account has 506 followers!

I enjoy following my alma mater @NCSUOrientation and their summer orientation activities on Twitter. All of their OL’s have a Twitter account and the content is super fun! What are some useful ways to use Twitter with summer orientation? I’m starting a Twitter list here – what accounts do you recommend?

Orientation Programs and Running

I knew the long hours of orientation would challenge my running schedule this summer. My Nike+ data shows it too: 56.9 miles in June compared to 76.8 miles in May. As a runner, I was feeling down about the missed days, missed miles, missed personal reflection time, missed exercise, and so-on. Running a race on the day after our last orientation session was the perfect way to re-energize, re-motivate, and re-inspire the runner in me. Why? Because it proved that I could still run a 10K. It provided an outlet for me to relax and release all the stress of 8 amazing (but long) orientation sessions in June. Lastly, I ran it with no goals or expectations for finishing time – making it my most relaxing race yet! I plan to keep this in mind as I plan for the future or experience other extra-busy life moments (month after comps? Let’s run a race!)

2013 Freedom Run with my Dad

2013 Freedom Run with my Dad

A little about the race: the Fun Fourth Freedom 10K is a Greensboro tradition. It takes place the Saturday before the Fourth of July, which is usually a really hot day. This year the temperatures were pleasant and mild at the start, but warmed up quickly as the race went on. This course starts in downtown Greensboro and takes the runners through neighborhoods, so most of it was in the shade. One of two hills I distinctly remember from the course was near the finish and the volunteers cheering us up that hill really helped me finish strong.

I hope that no matter your responsibilities you are finding ways to relax and reenergize this summer. Participating in a 10K, even with limited training, was the right activity for me. What works for you?

Social class differences on a college campus

Trying to create programs and services for the diverse group of individuals that attend an institution can be a difficult task. Need based financial aid or other assistance programs help students enroll in college when otherwise they might not have been able to afford it. And, as I am learning firsthand this summer, students have varying levels of access, needs, and abilities. To be a better student affairs professional I need to improve my social class consciousness.

My NODA internship in orientation introduced me to a few issues that I did not experience as an undergraduate college student or at my UGA graduate assistantship. Not all students have cell phones, easy access to personal transportation, or parents with personal experience attending college.

UNCG offers an orientation program for students called SOAR (Spartan Orientation Advising and Registration). The orientation fee is charged on the student’s tuition and fee bill. We also offer an optional parent and family program that runs alongside the student program. The parent and family program is not charged on the tuition and fee bill and costs $70 to attend and $80 for day of SOAR registration. It is an additional $25 for a parent or family member to stay on campus in Spring Garden apartments.

Most students (~80%) are able to have a guest attend with them, but unfortunately some parent/family members can not attend because they can not take vacation time off work or because they can not afford the registration fee.

Transportation to summer orientation can also pose an issue for some students. If parents/family members do not own a car, they must find public or other transportation to the orientation program. Train and bus schedules do not always line up with orientation schedules; this might mean a student has to arrive a day early or late for the program.

Lastly, not all students have cell phones. I will be the first to admit that I am quick to make assumptions or want to create programs for students that include cell phones usage (or even social media usage via smart phone). This summer has been a great opportunity for me to realize that while Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, etc. might benefit a program, it doesn’t include all students. I will still advocate for increased usage of social media by faculty and staff, but because of my recent experiences I am more aware of working with students without the same level of technology access as others. We are so used to being able to contact everyone when we need them or even expect students to have frequent access to email and text, are we prepared when that is not an option?

What experiences have improved your social class consciousness? Do you find yourself working with students that do not own a cell phone as I did last week?

Preparing for SOAR

Last week I posted about being a NODA Intern at UNCG. Throughout the summer I am going to blog about some of the programs and activities going on in the NSSFP (New Student and Spartan Family Program) office at UNCG. This is a way for me to write some thoughts down and share about my NODA experience.

Last week was a very busy week of training for the SOS (Spartan Orientation Staff) after getting Monday off for Memorial Day. A new activity was scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday referred to as “call center.” Using the phones in the NSSFP office and in the UNCG Call Center the SOS called every student registered for SOAR. The script included information about check-in, parking, overnight accommodations  and instructions on payment and registration for a parent/family member or guest. The check-in process is a little complicated and feedback on previous surveys identified confusion from attendees. Although emails are sent out with instructions, this was a new addition to try to alleviate some of the confusion and complications this year.

Call Center in Action

What do you think about this idea? Will this effort of taking the extra step to prepare attendees for SOAR provide a positive customer service experience or do you think the same level of confusion will still exist? Only time will tell! SOAR starts Thursday – I can’t wait!