Catherine Ferrante headshot
Catherine Ferrante ’21

Every year, Barnard’s New Student Orientation Program (NSOP) kicks off the school year with a week of programming for first-year and transfer students to get acquainted with the Barnard community before classes begin. Though NSOP (August 31 - September 7) is virtual this year, the NSOP committee has worked hard all summer to create programming for new students. They’ve planned a wide range of activities and events to highlight the important resources available to help with transitioning into Barnard, including who to speak with about the NSOP process and the support systems that students can access for all aspects of the college experience.

For advice on what to expect from virtual Orientation, NSOP community events coordinator Catherine Ferrante ’21 shared tips for how to get involved with the Barnard community from around the world:

How did the NSOP team prepare this summer to welcome students virtually?

Although this NSOP is going to look drastically different, we are dedicated to creating an inclusive virtual space and making sure that new students feel connected to the student body. We have a lot of community- and identity-based social events, and a lot of these events have been tweaked so that students will be placed in smaller Zoom rooms. This is an attempt to relieve some of the awkwardness of Zoom calls and is meant to foster new social connections and the feeling of what it’s like to be a part of the Barnard student body, which is, of course, a key aspect of NSOP. We are also making space for OLs (Orientation leaders) to chat with students about common interests, and we hope that this will lead to incoming students getting involved with extracurricular groups that are doing virtual meetings and events. We are really excited to welcome students into the Barnard community and meet everyone, and we look forward to easing some of the anxieties about what college is going to look like. 

Which NSOP event are you most excited about?

I am so incredibly excited for our Alumnae Panel! We have four amazing alumnae, all from different career backgrounds, who will participate in a virtual Zoom webinar Q&A panel. Students will have the opportunity to ask their own questions, which I think is a really cool experience. Going to Barnard, students are told that they are being set up to be successful and that this school will open doors for them, but being able to actually meet and interact with successful alumnae allows incoming students to see how vastly different each success story is and how Barnard influenced each one. Usually, our alumnae event has one single keynote speaker, but because we are online, we were able to reach out to alumnae from all over the country and get a really cool collective together. 

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Get involved with things that you are interested in but haven’t studied formally before. There are so many amazing classes, clubs, and organizations that let you dabble and explore new things. Use the graduation requirements to expand your academic horizons, and use your free time to find what brings you the most joy. Even online, there are so many classes to take and groups to join, and finding your people while doing something you love is always a journey worth taking. Alongside that, you don’t have to like everything you try, and it’s okay to move on from a hobby or interest if you want to make time for other things! Oh, and truly probably the most important thing that I made the mistake of not listening to during my first year: Take time to openly and honestly check in with yourself. Once you figure out how you’re really feeling and why, you can start to make choices that bring you a lot more joy.