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Summer Orientation Sessions Help Incoming Students Learn What It Means to Be a Choctaw

About two dozen organizations at Mississippi College and the surrounding community offer information and giveaways to incoming students during the Orientation Marketplace in Alumni Hall.
About two dozen organizations at Mississippi College and the surrounding community offer information and giveaways to incoming students during the Orientation Marketplace in Alumni Hall.

Last summer, a record number of undergraduate and transfer students and their family members – fueled by an influx of first-time Leland Speed Scholars – filed through New Student Orientation, eager to begin their collegiate journey at Mississippi College.

This year, excitement for the interactive “sneak preview” of campus life at MC remains at an all-time high.

The Office of Student Engagement is offering four comprehensive two-day sessions and a pair of concentrated one-day conferences to help incoming the new students learn what it means to be an MC Choctaw.

Cameron Melton, a senior social studies education major from Clinton, said orientation is the first step in being recognized as a Mississippi College student.

Melton had yet to decide which college to attend when he visited MC for a New Student Orientation session during the summer before his freshman year. The experience helped him make up his mind.

“Coming to MC, making a schedule, meeting my fellow students, and seeing what the campus life was all about really did it for me,” Melton said. “Orientation is what got me to this school.”

During his freshman year, Melton was asked to fill a last-minute vacancy on the Student orientation Team. He has served as an orientation leader ever since.

“It was my favorite thing I’ve ever done at MC,” said Melton, now a student orientation director. “I love seeing all the new students, showing them what got me to this school, and making sure everybody has the same experience I had as an incoming student.”

He said the most common question parents ask during orientation is what to bring for Move-In Day. Students are interested to learn how to balance academics while participating in all of the fun activities Mississippi College offers.

“The answer usually depends on how rigorous the academic requirements of their major are and what kind of student they want to be,” he said. “There’s no template to follow – ultimately, it’s up to the student.”

He said the main objectives of summer orientation are to help the incoming classes become familiar with the Clinton campus, meet their classmates and upperclassmen, discover what will be expected of them as college students, and register for their fall classes. Those who participate in the two-day sessions will get a taste of what it’s like to stay in a residence hall.

Various small-group sessions introduce the newcomers to orientation student leaders who offer their insight into what campus life is all about. The incoming students 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 different twist – and how to access Banner and use other provisional academic tools on campus.

They also meet with representatives from 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.

A mainstay of New Student Orientation is the Orientation Marketplace, an “Opportunity Fair” in Alumni Hall where newcomers learn about various ways they can connect with the campus. About two dozen organizations at MC – from the Student Government Association to Residence Life – and the surrounding community – including local churches and businesses – set up information tables and offer giveaways.

“The goal of the Orientation Marketplace is for organizations from across campus and the Jackson metro area to show students what they’re about and give them an opportunity to connect early,” Melton said. “We invite several local churches in Clinton to participate, and we include campus organizations, such as the Campus Programming Board, the Office of Student Engagement, Intramurals, and the Multicultural Student Association, among others.

“Some have games to play, others have questionnaires to fill out. It’s an effort to get the new students talking about involvement and showing parents opportunities their students will have on campus.”

Melton has been hard at work since last fall helping to ensure the summer orientation season is successful.

“The biggest challenge happens during advising sessions later in the summer,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard to find openings in certain classes in the fall because those who attended orientation earlier have already filled them up. That makes us have to work around full classes for some students.”

No matter which session they attend, new students participating in orientation can expect to leave campus 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, they’ll have a greater understanding of the culture at Mississippi College.

“Even if you’re not sure whether or not you’ll be coming to MC, it’s still worth going to orientation,” Melton said. “It’s an opportunity to get that final look at what life at MC would be like if you make the decision to come to school here.”

For more information about New Student Orientation at Mississippi College, click here.