Safety first, but keep the fun. That has been the task set before those leading Cedarville University’s first-ever "touchless" Getting Started Weekend, when college students begin returning to campus on Friday, Aug. 14. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 17.
New students will be able to check in without ever having to leave their cars. While waiting in the car drive-thru, new students and their families can tune in to FM station 99.5 to hear student leaders welcome them to campus and give them instructions.
The university is expected to welcome up to 920 first-time freshmen students to campus during the Getting Started Weekend. To transition to the touchless approach in welcoming all students, the university’s Campus Experience team completely reimagined this iconic welcome-to-Cedarville experience.
All student leaders will be wearing facemasks, protective gear and a blue or yellow wristband each day, indicating they have gone through a self-symptom diagnosis and a temperature check before their shift started.
Utilizing the Events at CU app, students will get GPS coordinates to guide them to their residence hall after check-in. At this point, they will be met by student leaders, wearing a new set of gloves for each student, who are willing to help unload cars.
Once unloaded, parents and students can attend all of the Getting Started sessions online. And the traditional Jacket Fest, the new student party, will take place in three separate locations that are tied together through one sound system.
But some of the changes to Getting Started started months before the event as Campus Experience collaborated with academic departments to create an online course for new students called Yellow Jacket Prep. Prospective students have been taking the course since the beginning of July, and it will be available even after Getting Started Weekend. The course takes about an hour and a half to complete and prepares students for everything from academics to campus life and discipleship ministries.
Also, before Getting Started Weekend, new students were able to connect with fellow incoming students through the university's STING small groups. With the modern technology of zoom and other networks, students are able to begin developing relationships with each other before they actually move into their residence hall rooms.
“With the danger of COVID, we want to have a safety mindset in order to build trust and to gain confidence,” explained Brian Burns, director of Campus Experience. “But we didn’t want all of our changes to be just for COVID. Our mindset has always been trying to make things more effective and efficient. Our hope is that 90% of the changes that we're making are going to last.”
Jake Johnson, Student Government Association president and senior political science major from Colorado Springs, Colorado, agrees with Burns and admitted that the traditional check-in process from the past was in need of revamping.
But despite the changes, the heart of Getting Started still holds true: introducing students and their families to the transformative effect of a Cedarville education.
“Knowing that we represent Cedarville students as a whole brings an additional weight to our words and actions,” said Johnson. “We want to communicate thoughtfully and purposefully to parents that their students will be safe, but also that they will grow as a person and as a Christ-follower during their college years as they press into their time at Cedarville.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,380 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about Cedarville University, visit www.cedarville.edu.