Screen image from AC Day 1 event on May 19 during the "College Essentials" webinar.

For freshman starting college in the fall, orientation is going to look a little different this year. Due to the majority of students not being allowed on campus, Algonquin College will be hosting all its AC Day 1 events online.

Virtual events include online prep webinars, and AC Day 1 which includes program orientation and social activities.

“The goal of AC Day 1 is to create a positive first experience, build community, create culture, which ultimately contributes to student success and retention rates,” said Michelle Hevey, events officer with the AC Hub.

Classes for programs scheduled to start on Sept. 8 have been pushed back at the Ottawa campus. This will open up the opportunity for new and returning students to be able to participate in the virtual AC Day 1 activities. Classes will return to normal on Sept. 9. Please contact program co-ordinators for exceptions.

However, this is not the college’s first online AC Day 1. On Tuesday, May 19, Algonquin College had its first-ever Virtual AC Day 1.

The college closed its campuses on March 16 due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

“One of the benefits of virtual events is that we could record each session for students to watch at a later date or reference throughout their semester,” said Hevey.

Hevey said they had 277 students tune in live for the webinar series which covered topics ranging from admissions and financial aid to AC’s health and wellness support.

She says 698 students tuned in live for the virtual workshops and activities, which included how to create a productive study-from-home space and a Virtual Dog Café featuring the AC Dog Squad.

“Overall, students were engaged and the post-event survey reflected overall satisfaction,” said Hevey.

All information sessions and webinars will be taking place before Sept. 8 Virtual AC Day 1. Day 1 will consist of program orientation, workshops, activities, support sessions and social programming.

Melissa Staddon, academic advising co-ordinator, said the program orientation is specific to each program. Students can expect to meet their professors, program co-ordinator, academic adviser and peers.

“Program orientation will provide students with the information they need to know about their program and is the perfect time to get answers to any questions that students might have,” said Staddon.

Although the new online platform may seem a little disconnected, Hevey said the use of technology will foster engagement opportunities amongst students with the use of Zoom chat, Zoom breakout rooms and connection cards.

“We are using various platforms to reach more students,” said Hevey. “And accommodate different students comfort levels. Fall Virtual AC Day 1 will consist of Zoom meetings, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and more.”

Another new feature this year, specific instructions for students about their program orientation will be available to them on their program’s Brightspace homeroom in the weeks leading up to Virtual AC Day 1.