Orientation and anticipation mark college beginnings

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

What are Pelham High School graduates once they move their tassels following their graduation ceremony? Many become college freshmen and the theory of college quickly becomes the reality of college.

Each college has unique opportunities to prepare incoming freshmen. The University of North Alabama offers SOAR—Summer Orientation and Registration. UNA’s acronym reveals the purpose for most summer orientations. Students discover their campus, their college’s unique offerings and they also have the opportunity to create their first semester schedules—with the assistance of advisors and older students from their university. Creating first college schedules is stressful. The offer of help to complete this daunting task is enough to draw students to summer orientations.

“I am looking forward to seeing all the different clubs and learning more about the sororities, as well as different majors that UNA offers,” said recent PHS grad Molly Stephens, who will be attending the University of North Alabama in the fall and attending SOAR in July.

Many summer orientation programs provide students an overnight campus experience. This initial campus knowledge, along with the opportunity to ask questions of older students builds excitement for students helping them overcome anxiety.

As the parent of a recent Pelham graduate who will begin at the University of Alabama this fall, my daughter and I are attending Bama Bound together.

“Our goal is to prep you for the next step,” UA Director of Parent and Family Programs Kim Sterritt says. Her practical advice and humor reassures a room full of nervous parents. Her simple message to revisit the basics with our incoming freshmen reminds me that the child I will soon leave in Tuscaloosa has only been alive for 18 years.

“Language matters,” Sterritt says simply encouraging positive communication.

Excitement matters too.

“I’m actually super excited. Since I’m in the Honors program, I get to take a Social Justice Advocacy course,” recent PHS grad Kat Owens says of her upcoming University of Montevallo schedule.

Witnessing PHS grads’ and Bama Bound participants’ excitement for college makes this high school teacher smile with satisfaction because—they’re ready.