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June 23, 2011
MARYVILLE, Mo. - About 1,500 incoming freshmen and their families are getting a sneak peek of life at Northwest Missouri State University this month during the University's annual Summer Orientation Advisement and Registration program.
Better known as SOAR, the day-long program is an opportunity for new Bearcats to get acclimated to the campus and culture at Northwest.
Incoming students visit with current Northwest students who share similar interests and meet with faculty advisors to discuss their course schedules for the fall trimester. They also have opportunities to tour residence halls, talk with representatives from administrative offices, hear presentations about student services and attend information sessions about topics ranging from Greek life and student employment to financial assistance. This year, students and parents could attend a meet-and-greet with academic deans and University leaders including President Dr. John Jasinski.
"A big part of SOAR is helping incoming students understand what support is available to them," said Leslie Chandler, coordinator of student orientation and transfer affairs. "If you seek out the resources that are there for you, you can be successful. We try to educate them about what those are."
While the free T-shirts and other giveaways are a bonus, new students attending SOAR this week said it helped them feel more at ease about attending college. Students took pride in becoming acquainted with other new students over lunch or seeing their fall schedule for the first time.
Alyssa Burns, of Omaha, Neb., and Erin Steppe, of Overland Park, Kan., said they met Wednesday morning while attending a SOAR session about their major, business management. Later they ate lunch and visited the afternoon's student services fair together.
"I liked meeting all of the other incoming freshmen, knowing they're in the same position I am," Burns said. "It was nerve-racking at first, but once I got into it, it was really helpful."
Said Tyler Funk, an incoming freshman from Kansas City, Mo., who plans to major in marketing and business management, "I felt it was necessary (to attend SOAR). It's a good chance to get to know people and get off on the right foot."
Some of the most common concerns students voice, Chandler said, are connected to getting along with roommates or dining options. Parents typically have broader concerns, however, and SOAR sessions are geared toward putting parents at ease as well.
"We've been impressed with everything; it's just wonderful," said Mark Poelzl, an Olathe, Kan., resident whose daughter will attend Northwest in the fall. "Academics seem to be stressed more than anything. That impressed me the most, and all of the help that is available is impressive."
Additionally, SOAR is as much a chance for the Maryville community to get acquainted with the new freshman class as it is for the Northwest community. Considering the family members accompanying incoming students to SOAR, Chandler estimates an average of 500 people are visiting the Maryville community each day, or about 4,000 people throughout the duration of SOAR.
Coming from Holden, the Kephart family, which includes future Northwest agriculture education major Kevin, and his parents, Rusty and Kathleen, said the friendly feel of the community and University appealed to them.
"Everyone here seems sincere, and that's comforting," Rusty Kephart said. "We get a snapshot or a picture of it when we visit, but it's comforting when you meet the University president and talk to him about it, and he says, ‘That's the way it is every day.'"
Northwest Dean of Enrollment Management Bev Schenkel noted SOAR is one of three orientation programs developed intentionally for first-year students to help them make the transition from high school to Northwest. The University's other programs are Advantage, which helps new students get settled into campus life a week ahead of the start of fall classes, and Freshman Seminar, an academic course designed to introduce students to Northwest and the collegiate environment.
"The structure of our first-year program is to help students better understand the academic expectations that exist at Northwest along with helping them understanding how they can be more actively involved to make the most of their college experience," Schenkel said.
This summer's SOAR events began June 17 and continued this week. The remaining dates are Friday, June 24; Saturday, June 25; Tuesday, June 28; and Wednesday, June 29.
For more information about this summer's SOAR events, click here.
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468