Thursday, June 11, 2009
Orientation at USM
I guess we officially have a college student in the family.
Thursday and Friday, Emma and I attended Preview 2009 on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
There were “First Year Experience” sessions for both parents and students. When the two days were complete, Emma had her student ID and was registered for classes, which begin August 19, just two months away.
USM had always been high on Emma’s list of college choices. And as the big decision drew closer, it did not make sense to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-state tuition to the University of Alabama. It made sense to pick one of our excellent universities right here in the state. We grew to love Southern Miss while living two years in Laurel (just 25 miles from Hattiesburg) and that love was rekindled last week.
All the parents’ sessions were informative.
They focused on topics like “Your Student’s Success,” “Academics,” “Financial Aid and Business Services,” “The Truth About College,” “Campus Police and Parking Management,” “University Health Services and Emergency Policies” and “Residence Life.”
The most entertaining was Joe Paul, vice president for Student Affairs, who talked about how to make the transition from high school to college successful for the entire family.
Atop the list was “go to class.” Believe it or not, Paul said with a grin, students who actually attend class do better academically in college.
He also urged students to get to know their professors and instructors, live on campus, get involved in campus life, get organized and find constructive ways to relieve stress.
Paul said those students who live on campus are typically more successful. He said living on campus immerses them in the culture of Southern Miss.
He urged the parents to urge their students to get involved in campus life. There are more than 270 activities to pick from on campus.
“You get out of it what you put into it,” Paul said.
He said one of the most critical skills in succeeding as a college student is being organized. He said to work ahead, not putting things off until the last minute, and learn to multi-task.
Emma, at least as a freshman and likely throughout, will be living on campus. We’re not sure which dorm yet but should know that this week. Naturally, she’s eager to find out who her roommate will be.
I told Pam, who had to stay home and get the other two children where they needed to go, that I was doing OK until a parent asked a question about the “hurricane plan.”
Hattiesburg is an hour or less from Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.
Pam said Emma’s plan was pretty simple – “Get home as quickly as she can.”
We experienced the campus food, which is good with lots of selections. USM, by the way, has the largest Starbucks in the state.
We experienced the campus bookstore – Barnes and Noble – and brought back a few gifts.
All in all, it was a fabulous two days for father and daughter. It made me realize that the day for her leaving home is drawing very near. But it also made me feel comfortable with her choice, USM, where family is emphasized.
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