START offers a new start

UWL’s new student registration — START — begins Monday, June 15, and runs nine days through June 29. This year’s program has moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Virtual new student registration — START — offers new opportunities

This year’s new student registration — START— has been moved online due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean those new students won’t find it personal. In fact, in some ways it will be even more personal thanks to longer, individualized advising.

The virtual START, which kicks off Monday, June 15, will provide incoming students with an individual, 20-minute appointment with a faculty advisor to discuss course registration.

“Now that we’re able to spread out advising appointments, it will definitely personalize the experience,” says Assistant Director of Admissions Sam Pierce, co-chair of the START Committee.

New students will be given initial homework on Canvas, the university’s online learning management system. Students will watch videos to prepare for advising appointments, as well as be prompted to complete health forms, take placement tests, download needed software, and complete contact information in WINGS.

Joey D’Agostino, left, and Ken Koelbl, Admissions staff, organize packets in the Student Union to send to new students registering for fall classes. This year’s START has been moved entirely online due to COVID-19.

The virtual program builds on some effective face-to-face programming. The Eagle Group time, a small group session where Eagle Guides, student leaders, can respond directly to students and provide resources as well as facilitate conversation among students. Following a student’s START day, they’ll also have access to a discussion board where they can continue to submit questions to the Eagle Guides.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll see more student questions than normal because of the online format,” says Sarah Joslyn, coordinator of New Student and Family Programs.

Joslyn says the shift to virtual START is going well. The Admissions staff and others have worked hard to create the new platform while figuring out the best ways to transition in-person information to the virtual format. The challenge with a virtual format is losing the ability for students to connect with other students, she notes.

“It’s manageable to transition the content into the virtual platform, but nothing beats students just being in the same room as one another and letting those connections form naturally,” Joslyn explains. “We’re hoping to still host some type of in-person event for the incoming students when we’re able to and still help them form those connections.”

One popular option for students, and parents and guardians who may be logged in beside them, will be the Resource Fair. Nearly 40 campus departments will have their own virtual rooms. Students can click into those rooms to speak directly with those campus partners to get their questions answered.

“It will work pretty similarly to a person walking up to their table in the Student Union,” explains Joslyn. “Campus partners can engage with those in their rooms via video chat or can structure it where questions are asked via the chat feature. It’s up to each office how they want to run their room.”

Joslyn and Pierce know it will be a new experience for both campus partners and incoming students, but they are excited to host the nine virtual START days to engage with incoming students and families.

“It’s been a very solid, all-campus effort,” says Pierce. “We’ve had a lot of support from everyone on campus.”

Pierce is confident faculty and staff can still provide quality customer service and share the UWL experience in a virtual format.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be a great opportunity to welcome our students and set the stage for their continued success on campus,” he says.

See complete details about START at: https://www.uwlax.edu/admissions/start/