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Dr. Kat’s List: Five Top Freshmen Welcome Weekends

From welcome weekends to new student mixers, colleges and universities put on a variety of orientation programs to welcome freshmen to the campus community. These activities scheduled in the days and weeks before classes start are an exciting time for incoming freshman and mark a right of passage.

Dr. Kat shares her choice for five schools that really know how to throw out the welcome mat for their newest students!

University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

One of the biggest challenges incoming freshmen face is learning all there is to know about their new college or university: traditions, fight songs, and other unique things about their new campus home. The University of South Carolina, however, makes sure new students are brought up to speed as soon as they step on campus with First Night Carolina.

During move-in week, all freshmen are taken to Williams-Brice Stadium, where the Gamecocks play football, and get to run out on to the field through the smoke tunnel, making the same entrance the football players do on game days. Students then sit in the stands while organizers teach them the Carolina fight song, the alma mater, and game day chants. The experience is completed with fireworks and student mingling with refreshments before heading back to campus.

Founded in 1801, the University of South Carolina is a public research university with over 31,000 students and more than 324 degree programs. As the flagship campus of the University of South Carolina System, the campus covers over 350 acres in downtown Columbia, adjacent to the South Carolina State House.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, freshmen fun and events don’t stop after move-in weekend. The school’s Welcome to Michigan Program is a series of over 200 events, starting when freshmen arrive on campus and continuing through September.

Events include student club expos, UMix parties and mixers, festivals, and festivities before and after the school’s first home football game. Other popular campus events meant to help freshmen feel at home includes Meijer Mania, where the popular store offers incredible discounts, prizes, games, and even a DJ to welcome students to the community and help them stock up on dorm necessities.

The University of Michigan is a public research university and is one of the original “public Ivies.” The campus boasts close to 30,000 undergraduate students and close to 1,500 student clubs and organizations. With a very successful football program in the NCAA’s Big Ten Conference, Michigan students love to cheer on their Wolverines at Michigan Stadium, known as The Big House, which seats over 109,000 fans.

University of Maryland, College Park, MD

The University of Maryland in College Park, MD loves new Terps so much they want to get them on campus as soon as possible. Through the school’s Freshmen First program, students have the unique opportunity to start living on campus and attending class weeks before the semester starts.

Students who participate in the three-week Freshmen First program at UMD earn four academic credits, get settled into campus life, and have access to exclusive seminars and social events with other freshmen. Students choose from several three-credit courses to take during the program including Sport and American Society, Why Good Managers Make Bad Decisions, and Film Form and Culture. Other activities include movie nights, pool parties, and organized day trips to Washington, DC .

Located just outside of Washington, DC, UMD is a public research university with over 26,000 undergraduate students. Because of UMD’s close proximity to the nation’s capital, the school has strong research partnerships with the US government, including faculty research projects with NASA and the Department of Homeland Security.

University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

The University of San Francisco‘s New Student Orientation (NSO) program ensures that students are getting a proper introduction to campus while enjoying all the school has to offer. The NSO is led by the GO (Get Oriented) Team, a group of active and diverse students who serve as guides and mentors during the orientation process.

After moving in, freshmen eat their first dinner together then participate in community group meetings to get to know the other new students. Over the next two days, freshmen are introduced to the school and campus through workshops, brunch, mass, a “Pirates v. Sailors” dance, and even a hypnotist show. Activities are available for parents as well, and students are taken on local trips that include Alcatraz, Chinatown, Ghirardelli Square, and Golden Gate Park.

USF is a private Jesuit university located on “The Hilltop” between the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA. The school is home to just over 6,000 undergraduate students, and offers over 100 student clubs and organizations as well as over 70 majors, minors, and concentrations.

Apart from providing a lot of freshmen welcome fun, USF is also a great school for those students looking to get active. The Koret Health and Recreation Center offers everything from cardio and weight lifting equipment to fitness classes and a lap pool. The Center also hosts the Outdoor Adventures program, which organizes outdoor excursions for students like surfing, horseback riding, skiing, and even sea kayaking.

Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI

For students looking to get the very first impression of a school, incoming freshmen at Marquette University can participate in the Freshman Frontier Program (FFP), a summer academic program where they can earn three academic credits.

Students get a jump-start on the Marquette experience by moving on campus early and participating in academic support programs meant to help ease the transition into college life. They work closely with a FFP advisor to map out the best course schedule, define career goals, and provide support the first few weeks on campus. FFP sponsors social events like the Milwaukee River boat cruise, a bowling party, and trips to Six Flags, as well as volunteer opportunities.

Located in Milwaukee, WI, Marquette University is a private, Jesuit university with an undergraduate student body of just over 8,000. Students can participate in any of the school’s 230 student clubs and organizations, and over 10% of undergraduates are in a Greek letter fraternity or sorority.

Marquette offers 78 majors and 77 minors, ranging from International Business and Biology to Theology and Naval Science. The school is also known for its philanthropy and annual Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, founded in 1978 by former Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire.

These schools have gone the extra mile to help their newest members fit right into the school community. Finding that perfect-fit school for you is critical as you build a balanced college list.


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