A (virtual) welcome for new Tigers
Each year, thousands of incoming students attend Summer Welcome — an orientation and registration program that introduces Tigers-to-be to the traditions, resources and people of the University of Missouri. Summer Welcome is moving online for the first time, but student and staff leaders are preserving the spirit of what makes it so special.
Kayleigh Peterson, a journalism major and junior from Platte City, Mo., remembers Summer Welcome as a defining moment in her life. “It holds such a special place in my heart because it eased my nerves,” she said. “Summer Welcome lays the foundation for your success, not only for your move-in to the university, but for your freshman year and all the way through your college career.”
Motivated by her experience, Peterson became a Summer Welcome leader last year. Now she is one of two student coordinators who are helping to train more than 30 new student leaders for the role. As a team, they will guide incoming Tigers through small group sessions that cover essential campus resources and answer newcomers’ burning questions about Mizzou.
Because this year’s program is moving online, Peterson and her fellow leaders are discovering how to communicate the friendliness and support of past Summer Welcomes through virtual interaction.
“Within the virtual format, it’s important to choose conversations and activities that are very intentional,” Peterson said. “It takes a bit more research and willingness to prepare, but I have full faith that our new Summer Welcome leaders will be successful.”
David Rielley, senior coordinator for the Office of New Student Programs, leads Summer Welcome programming and is supervising the transition to a virtual platform. Based on what he has seen and heard, Rielley said Mizzou is at the forefront of rethinking how to support incoming students during this unusual time.
“What we’re doing is pretty ambitious compared to a lot of other institutions, including the amount and extent of content. This is especially true as we try to keep the opportunity for students and parents to ask questions face-to-face,” Rielley said.
Students will meet one-on-one (via Zoom) with their academic advisors and also participate in small group meetings with other incoming students. Parents may also attend a separate information session hosted through the Summer Welcome HQ platform
Instead of physically touring campus, access codes sent to student email accounts will unlock pre-recorded videos that introduce new Tigers to important resources and answer commonly asked questions. Additional presentations about different Mizzou services, ways to get involved and financial aid will also be available. Individual colleges and schools are also creating video content that addresses their incoming students.
Rielley said his team is dedicated to accommodating all students and providing an experience that rivals any past in-person Summer Welcome. Despite some changes, the program’s core mission remains the same — for new students to make friends, ask questions and connect with the MU community.
Conner Sibley, a junior and health science major with a pre-professional emphasis from Houston, is a student coordinator alongside Peterson. His favorite piece of advice for new students trying to find their place is, “Your people are always here at Mizzou.”
Sibley said, “On a campus this big, there are so many different things you can do and so many different people you can interact with. Your people are in the dorms, or maybe Greek Life or rec sports. Your people are going to be here, and you are going to find them.”
Sibley added one more message for incoming Tigers, “The entire Summer Welcome team is excited to meet you. This year will be unconventional, but we’re super excited to interact with and help you.”
For more information about Summer Welcome and other resources for new and transfer students, visit the New Student Programs page.