Students, guests getting to experience SOAR

Hailey Jennings (right), who will be a freshman in nursing this fall, and her mother, Natalie, pose for a selfie during a SOAR session this week at Tennessee Tech.

COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech’s student orientation, advisement and registration (SOAR) is off to a good start.

During the first six sessions, more than 1,200 incoming freshmen and guests have attended the program that helps them finalize enrollment for Fall 2020.

“I was happy with it,” said Hailey Jennings, a recent Upperman High School graduate who is coming to Tech to major in nursing. “There was a lot of cool stuff that I learned that I didn’t know about campus.”

“I was very impressed with the different sessions they had,” said Jennings’ mom Natalie. “They covered every detail you could think of for a new student.”

Instead of a two-day experience, students and their guests have been going through a one-day orientation which begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until around 8 p.m.   

“This has allowed us as a campus to share with new students what they can expect regarding the fall semester while also allowing them to get ready for the start of their college education at Tech,” said Allen Mullis, Tech’s executive director for student success. “We all can agree that this is a unique time and our new students and their families seem to appreciate the precautions and steps we’ve taken to host orientation on campus this summer to allow them the opportunity to experience an in-person program.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected the way SOAR has been held in the past, Tech officials worked hard to make sure there would still be on-campus sessions for in-coming freshman this summer.

“COVID-19 has definitely presented its challenges for everyone, everywhere,” said Mullis. “We have worked with health services, faculty, staff and university facilities to determine what steps and precautions should be in place to host an on-campus orientation experience for new students and their families this summer. It has been quite the learning experience for us all and this summer’s orientation is definitely different than what SOAR has traditionally looked like for new freshman students.”

Mullis and his staff have been getting positive feedback for the precautions taken and the guidelines put in place for SOAR participants.

“I thought it was extremely safe. I thought it was very well-prepared,” said Natalie Jennings. “There was signage up before you went into a building saying this is a mask location. There was signage on the floor to stay six feet apart. There were sanitizing stations at check-in. Everyone was given their own hand sanitizer, and I thought that was very cool. I felt very at ease.”

During the one-day session, Tech provides information to help freshmen with their transition to campus, review and finalize information about their academic major, share more about Tech’s student life, provide resources available to help them succeed, and ease any concerns as they get ready to take flight as a Golden Eagle.

“I think I am really going to enjoy campus,” said Hailey Jennings. “I really liked how more personable it was. You got to know everybody. That was a good first impression about Tech.”

SOAR sessions will continue through Aug. 14. For more information on SOAR, go to:

During the first six sessions, more than 1,200 in-coming freshmen and guests have attended the program that helps them finalize enrollment for Fall 2020.

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