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Full Speed Ahead: MC Leaders Prepare for Record Attendance at New Student Orientation Sessions

More brand-new Choctaws than ever will be welcomed to campus this summer for orientation sessions that will help them assimilate into MC’s unique campus culture.
More brand-new Choctaws than ever will be welcomed to campus this summer for orientation sessions that will help them assimilate into MC’s unique campus culture.

For Kelsey Sanchez, early summer is the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s not that the assistant director of first year experience at Mississippi College has any outstanding vacation plans for the weeks following Commencement. To the contrary, she and the rest of MC’s student engagement staff are busily preparing to welcome one of the largest freshman classes in the Christian University’s history.

Thanks in large part to the new Leland Speed Scholarship, which provides full tuition for all admitted high school or undergraduate transfer students who are residents of Mississippi, a record six new student orientation sessions have been scheduled to help brand-new Choctaws assimilate into MC’s unique campus culture.

Sanchez couldn’t be more excited.

“It is absolutely my favorite time,” said Sanchez, a 2019 MC alum who earned her M.S. in higher education and student affairs at Baylor University. “When I was a student, orientation was the first leadership opportunity I got involved in. It led to my future career and it is the reason why I am here.

“MC is what I love and the MC Family is special. To welcome students into this new environment, this new home – there’s nothing like it.”

Whether meeting their classmates, finding their assigned residence halls, or learning where their classes will take place, orientation sessions can quickly become a case of “information overload.” Keeping the experience light and fun helps prevent new students from feeling bogged down before they’ve had a chance to begin their first semester.

“We want them to get the full picture of what being an MC student is like,” said Sanchez, who oversees first-year experience programming. “Of course, academics are why they’re coming to campus, but throughout the year, we try to make their college experience enjoyable from start to finish, whether in the classroom, the residence hall, on the Quad – anywhere.

“We want orientation to capture what their college experience will look like.”

To that end, four two-day sessions are scheduled for May 22-23, May 24-25, June 1-2, and July 24-25, and two one-day sessions are slated for May 30 and July 6. Sanchez said single-day orientation will provide everything new students need to be ready for college, while the more expansive two-day sessions will allow new students to experience life in a residence hall firsthand.

Various small group sessions will introduce the newbies to orientation student leaders who will offer their insight into what campus life is all about. The newcomers will learn about volunteer opportunities in more than 50 campus organizations; men’s service clubs and women’s social tribes – MC’s version of “Greek life” with a decidedly Christian twist; and how to access Banner and use other provisional academic tools on campus. They’ll also meet with representatives from the Office of Student Success, Christian Life and Leadership, and Residence Life to gain a deeper understanding of the wealth of services that can help them create a well-rounded educational experience on the Clinton campus.

But it wouldn’t be Mississippi College without plenty of fun activities, from a late-night, carnival-themed soiree to a series of comedic skits called “Inside Scoop” that will transform the new students into MC insiders overnight.

Claire Price, a senior biology major from Madison, couldn’t attend new student orientation when she first came to MC – a worldwide pandemic ruined that opportunity – but the student orientation leader is making up for lost time. As co-director of Inside Scoop along with her classmate, Mallory Burnside, Price has been preparing for new student orientation for weeks.

“New student orientation is valuable because it helps students get acclimated to the environment at MC so that when they come in the fall, they’ve already made friends, they already know their way around, and they already know what to expect,” Price said.

More than 40 small group orientation leaders will participate in the aptly named Inside Scoop comedy show, which helps new students get a leg up on their college experience at MC.

“It features a lot of inside jokes about the campus and life here at MC,” Price said. “It lets the students in on all of those inside jokes that we have, so they understand everything a little better when they come to school in the fall. There are different skits throughout, and everyone gets to know the different things we have on campus.

“Most of the time, the crowd laughs a lot and has a lot of fun.”

Another mainstay of MC’s new student orientation is the Orientation Marketplace, where newcomers learn about various ways they can connect to the campus. More than 20 organizations at MC – from the Student Government Association to Residence Life – and the surrounding community – including local churches and businesses – set up tables in the Commons and provide information and giveaways to new students and their guests.

“During the marketplace, the students and their parents get to meet representatives from these different groups, grab a few goodies, and discover what they might want to be involved in here at Mississippi College,” Sanchez said. The Orientation Marketplace will take place at 2 p.m. during the one-day sessions and at 3 p.m. on the first day of each two-day session.

The record number of new students participating in MC’s orientation can expect to leave the event with several handouts, “goodie bags,” and other treats, and plenty of information to make their transition to full-time college students as seamless as possible. Most importantly, according to Price, they’ll leave with a greater understanding of what it means to be part of the Choctaw Family.

“This year, we’re excited about orientation because we’ve got one of the largest classes ever coming in,” she said. “The new students will enhance the environment on our campus because more people will be involved in all of the programs we have here.

“I can’t wait for the fall semester to get started.”

For more information about new student orientation at MC, email Sanchez at