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Sophomores walk down the steps within the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the Gala Event on Aug. 29. (Photo from Samarth Nayak)

After missing in-person New Student Orientation last fall, the Class of 2024 became the first sophomore class to attend a specialized second-year orientation program.

Throughout Second-Year Move-In, sophomores had the option to attend unique programming planned by the office of New Student Orientation & Academic Initiatives, which plans first-year NSO each year. Sophomores largely said they enjoyed the introduction to campus life after a primarily virtual first year. Despite on-campus housing opening in spring 2021, most instruction was delivered remotely.

College and Wharton sophomore Ziyan Wu, who completed her first year remotely because she couldn't get a visa, said she appreciated the opportunity to get to know campus and meet her classmates.

“[Move-in] was overwhelming at first. I was scared to see this many people after a whole year of online school," Wu said. "However, I really enjoy the campus after exploring and getting to know all the buildings. It feels unreal.”

Activities included the Penn Athletics Picnic and Class of 2024 photo on Franklin Field, the Second-Year Preceptorials and the Late Night Activities Fair, while walking tours of Philadelphia were canceled due to rainy weather. 

College sophomore Brandon Sayler said the Late Night Activities Fair, which featured different student organizations and recreational activities, was really well put together.

“It's been really cool to see a fresh campus so alive,” said Sayler, who lived on campus in the spring. 

SYO celebrations culminated with the Second-Year Gala Event at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Aug. 29. Penn rented out the museum for the gala, giving students the opportunity to view the galleries and get to know their classmates.

NSO normally consists of five days of programming at the beginning of first-year fall. Due to the pandemic, the Class of 2024 attended NSO virtually through a series of online preceptorials and workshops last year. 

First-year students and sophomores participated in separate new student programming this semester. All SYO events were optional, while certain NSO events were required for first years. 

New Student Orientation & Academic Initiatives will host more optional events throughout the semester as part of the Second-Year Experience. Penn designated Sept. 8 "Second-Year Day." Sophomores can head to New College House West Lawn from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to connect with campus resources and programs specifically for second-year students.

“I appreciate how Penn has attempted to address the fact that we didn't have a real NSO last year by planning several really interesting events," Engineering sophomore Hansen Yi said. "I think Penn could have easily just neglected us sophomores and left us to start a 'real' year at Penn without ever having any sort of meaningful orientation."