300-plus new MTSU students initiate CUSTOMS orientation

300-plus new MTSU students initiate CUSTOMS orientation

People came from as far away as Illinois and as close as Murfreesboro. During the rest of the spring and summer through the end of July, they will come from all parts in order to attend MTSU’s CUSTOMS freshmen orientation for the Class of 2021.

Nearly 330 incoming freshmen and 315 parents and family members arrived Thursday (May 18) for the first day of a two-day orientation and first of 10 CUSTOMS sessions that run through July 25-26.

In all, potentially 4,000 freshmen will participate in CUSTOMS. Coordinated by the Office of New Student and Family Programs, CUSTOMS shows freshmen the ropes of being an MTSU student and introduces them to the intellectual, cultural and social climate of the university.

Grace Caldwell, a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School in Nashville, attended with her father, Thomas Caldwell.

“It has gone well,” said Grace Caldwell, who plans to major in psychology. “There’s been a whole bunch of information. I like the way they are presenting it. I’m eager to see what else is going to be presented.”

Following check-in for all and placement tests in music and foreign language for some, everyone heard the welcome and instructions for the day from Deb Sells, vice president of Student Affairs and vice provost for Enrollment and Academic Services.

“You are our first glimpse (of the new students),” said Sells, who informed them MTSU “is going to change your life and you also are going to change our life. … Every single person here has what it takes to be successful, but I have a prediction: At some point, you will hit a bump in the road. Nobody escapes unscathed, but you can overcome hard things.”

Sells said freshmen should commit to being full-time students — “attendance is everything because you are paying for every hour of classroom time” — and to schedule classes Monday through Friday, not just two or three days a week.

Urging them to get connected on campus through the “Connection Point” event process where they collect special buttons, Sells said Student Affairs wants them to complete at least six Connection Point events by Sept. 6. The Aug. 27 Freedom Sings (all-campus sing), Sept. 2 MTSU-Vanderbilt football game, and Sept. 6 Volunteer Fair are among the early events.

Sells tied together the Summer Reading Program and the book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” by J.D. Vance, with what she called “the first day of class” — required attendance for the 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, University Convocation in Murphy Center, with Vance the scheduled speaker.

Laurie Witherow, vice provost for Admissions and Enrollment Services, discussed the MT One Stop (a convenient way to take care of university business) in the Student Services and Admissions Center.

Regarding CUSTOMS, Gina Poff, director of New Student and Family Programs, said they are “excited about the cross-campus involvement — everything from MT Engage (enhancing student academic engagement) to the Campus Pharmacy — covering every type of student and student need.”

Band, choral music, MT Dining, Honors College, ROTC program, University 1010, Student Support Services and Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center were among midday sessions available for them to attend. Later, they met with academic advisers, heard a college life issues presentation and were treated to a barbecue dinner at the Campus Recreation Center.

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