I recently had the honor of attending my niece’s orientation as Ole Miss as her “plus one” and help her navigate all things Ole Miss. This was such a unique opportunity for me because I spend so much time thinking about what parents need for their college student, that I got to sit in on an orientation in a pseudo "parents" roll. The only other time I've ever attended was 20 years ago, when I was a freshman!
So, here are the big highlights:
Not a lot has changed. Its still just as exciting! We still started off in Fulton Chapel like we did 20 years ago. But the movement around campus was at a minimum. As parents we were only moving between Fulton Chapel and The Student Union (which was just recently reopened after an EXTENSIVE reno!)
I really enjoyed the energy and creativity the Orientation Leaders brought to the event. I am certain it's hard trying to keep that pace after nine orientations! But the opening skit was fun and showed their different personalities.
We started off with the least likely scenario: homework for the students! They were assigned to read Evicted and write about it for their EDHE class this fall. The book was provided to them (a super nice gesture).
We were then led into an overview of different on-campus services like my friend Kyle Ellis, Director of Center for Student Success, who spoke about the “First Year Experience.” What a great idea! Because, first year experiences really make or break a student’s success. He spoke about academic advising opportunities within his office, academic support, veterans and military services and of course students’ persistence.
Next, we heard from Brett Barefoot (whom I got my master’s degree with and think the world of) and his position as the Senior Director of Development for Parent and Family Leadership. He offers a great opportunity for parents to serve in a leadership role for fellow parents. We then heard about the Ole Miss Family Association, that provides a membership opportunity for parents with an annual fee of $50.
Financial aid was a HUGE piece of information offered in the morning. Mind-blowing actually. I thought this was probably one of the most informative and well-executed presentations. It was very worth-while information. However, I felt like some of the information should have been given months ago. They spoke on scholarships, but so many of these deadlines have passed. If this was a parents first introduction to scholarship opportunities, then it would most likely have been too late.
Lunch was provided for free at the Johnson Commons, although I chose to eat the Union and pay (because of my limited Keto diet). But the food looked yummy from Johnson Commons.
After lunch we sat in our academic school meeting – Health Sciences. My niece is thinking about becoming a psychologist. It was great to hear about the opportunities for flexible course offerings, especially as a freshman. I was really encouraged by their level of inclusion for helping each student and ensuring they have the right courses and stay on track. High five!
Next, we were greeted by the enthusiastic leader for student organizations which could quickly be summed up by saying: get your student involved. Encourage them, support them. They still need mom and dad’s nudge to get involved!
The Q & A session probably had my ears perked the most because of what I do professional day in and out; I put on my "college parent hat" and try to look at things from YOUR perspective, so I can better help. So with each parent's question, all I wanted to do was stand up and say “Go to parentsofolemiss.com!” Of course, I didn’t, but it just reinforced so much of what we work so hard to bring you. I do, certainly, want to reiterate this to you parents reading: If there is EVER anything we can report on, investigate, recommend, HELP, whatever; please send us a message, comment, send flares if you have to! You can email me personally: firstname.lastname@example.org or text us 662.832.4POM with whatever we can help you.
Of course, a highlight to my experience was mingling with all the parents I’d met that day at our Empty Nester event! It was so fun to swap stories and keep telling our mission to all you awesome parents!