It’s that time of year again. Hard to believe, but summer is over – the academic summer, that is. Campus has come alive again with thousands of eagerly returning students.
“Welcome back” to our returning students and a special welcome to our freshmen.
One of my favorite things to do each year is to assist with freshman move-ins. Kudos to Auburn University Housing & Resident Life, as well as the Office of Student Affairs, for the great job in organizing and conducting student move-ins. There are many volunteers helping families unpack vehicles and move belongings to the rooms, resident assistants (RAs) are on hand to help the students get their keys and answer the hundreds of questions, and volunteers drive around in golf carts filled with water to keep everyone cool and hydrated. Compared to other universities (where I have come familiar with freshman move-in practices), Auburn does a fantastic job.
Why are freshmen move-in days so important? For the students, this is their “first” day of college. It is a time of excitement and high anxiety. I think Auburn does a great job of welcoming the students to the Auburn family, which helps reduce the anxiety (of both the students and their parents!).
As a volunteer, my job was to greet the families as they pulled up to the dorm, give them a quick overview of the process (unloading, getting keys, etc.), and then help them unload their belongings onto the sidewalk (to then be moved to the dorm room). As the families get out of their vehicles, I liked to ask the student a few questions, such as “Where are you from?” and “What is your intended major?” Of course, for those who answered the latter with “business,” I added an additional “Welcome to the Harbert College” to my usual greeting.
During the course of this routine, I noted one of the new intended business majors happened to be from the East Coast. While our new student was getting her key, I asked the father, “Are you or your wife Auburn grads?” “No,” he replied. “Are you originally from the area?” “No,” he replied again.
After a few more of these, I simply asked, “Why Auburn?” The father then went on to tell me they had researched many business schools in the U.S. and that Auburn’s business school was highly ranked, had great programs that his daughter was interested in — he mentioned such things as our highly-acclaimed accounting program, our rapidly growing supply chain program, and our new business analytics program. He told me about the $40 million Harbert naming gift received by the college last year, how the college’s reputation was growing and how the Harbert gift was going to push the college even higher.
Of course, this father did not know who I was, so he was giving me all the details about the Harbert College as if I had no idea. After all, I was just a volunteer helping unload his vehicle … There is no better testament to the great work the Harbert College is doing than to have a proud father articulate to a “stranger” all the reasons why his daughter – who lived more than 1,000 miles away from Auburn – chose Auburn’s Harbert College above all others. This is why I love my job.