Last Friday, I went with our son to his Freshman Orientation at Truman State University, in Kirksville, MO. Living in Rolla, MO population 19,000 give or take a few, and now facing life in Kirksville, population 17,000 give or take a few, wasn’t much of a shock for our son. We have heard of students at Truman coming in from St. Louis and its environs having trouble getting used to life in a smaller community, so I was glad to realize our son wouldn’t have that hurdle to contend with as he settles in at school.
It’s a 3 hour drive from Rolla to Kirksville, pretty much due north, driving up highway 63. The Ozark hills are in our area of Missouri, but once we got past Columbia, the Ozark hills and crags gave way to flatter lands with gently rolling hills. We saw plenty of fields with corn “Knee high by the fourth of July” and soybeans. My dad would be pleased to see such well-growing crops.
Truman State University has undergone changes over it’s almost 150 year history. In 1867, it was known as North Missouri Normal School and Commercial College. A couple years later, the Missouri legislature made it into the First District Normal School for the training of teachers. In 1919, the school was renamed Northeast Missouri Teachers College. 1967, a new name was chosen to reflect the expanded course and degrees now being offered: Northeast Missouri State College and then in 1972, the word college was changed to university. 1996, the school became known as Truman State University, named after Missouri’s only native son to be elected President of the U.S., Harry S. Truman. (In fact, for the incoming Freshman, they have to read a book about a road trip/vacation Harry and Bess Truman took after his presidency. Many of the orientation activities will be borrowed from the book: Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Ageo.)
We found the campus easily and the University had taken several of the parking lots closest to the student union, our meeting site, and made them for visitors parking. I thought it a smart marketing idea that the University’s bookstore had employees out front and center handing each student a drawstring bag in the school’s main color of purple, with a coupon in each bag for a percentage off of books purchased that day. With our 3 older kids having either graduated or almost being done with college, we know that a lot of textbooks are purchased online, even rented online(they have to be returned) and that those methods of obtaining textbooks have hurt college bookstores, but hey! That’s supply and demand, entrepreneurship, and capitalism at work. Later, when we did make some purchases at the University’s bookstore, he was shocked at the bill. Welcome to the world of a college bookstore!
After a welcome from the employee in charge of that day’s orientation, and one from the University’s President, the “kids” were sent away to get their photo id’s taken, and to pick out their first semester classes. We parents were sent to listen to 3 different presentations: Career Center and what is it’s purpose in your college student’s life, Counseling Center on facing that empty nest, Rules and Regulations the University has about drugs, alchohol, etc. and the consequences that will happen if bad decisions are made by your student. My only quibble with the Empty Nest video, is that it sort of assumed that this was either the first child you’ve ever sent off to college, or that it was your last or only child, and you’d be going home to an empty house. Ha! I laughed at that, as I still have 3 at home to finish raising when August 17th rolls around and it’s moving the Freshmen into their dorms day at Truman. I did raise my hand when the gentleman leading this session asked if any of us had advice, and I mentioned that if this child is leaving siblings behind, you may have to also deal with the siblings’ sadness at the older sibling being gone from the home. The gentleman did thank me for bringing that up and reiterated what I pointed out-be ready to deal with sad little brothers and/or sisters.
Lunch was nice, even though the kids had lunch somewhere else on campus, away from us parents. We witnessed a fun presentation from the Academic Team, who were helping the freshmen choose the right classes for their first semesters. After lunch, it was off to 3 more presentations: What a liberal arts education encompasses at Truman, Accepting your student if they come home with different beliefs, etc., and lastly, the on campus health clinic nurses gave us all the pertinent info we needed as to how they treat sick students, getting those vaccinations updated, sending in the requested medical forms, etc. All three of the presentations were well done, but the middle one, I’ll be praying that our son stays true to how he was raised and to his faith as he studies to reach his career goal.
As I emerged from the lecture hall after the nurses’ presentation, there was my son. He’s so tall now! He had planned his outfit for the day, looking bright and eager and a bit nervous, just like all the students I saw on this day, walking the campus with parents in tow. Since my first day at Rolla Jr. High is the same day our son moves into his dorm at Truman, hubby and I decided we’d do this go round as a tag team: I’d accompany son on Freshmen Orientation Day, and hubby would take son to the move in the dorm day for Freshmen.
Son wanted to visit his dorm, to see a double room sample, and then walk from the dorm to the buildings where his classes will be held. His schedule, no classes until 10:30am M-F, I told him don’t be surprised if that’s the only semester where he will be able to sleep in. Then we went to the bookstore, made some purchases, drove to a local Chinese restaurant for dinner, and then we drove to Rolla and home.
Summing up, Truman State had a well-planned orientation event. My son got to do what he had to do in getting started with his college coursework, I got to hear more about a liberal arts education. I also was reminded that a lot of Truman students are smart, usually ones who didn’t have to study much in high school and when they get that first bad grade at Truman on a test or quiz, be ready to talk sensibly to them, reassure them, and remind them that now they know how hard they’ll have to work to get the grades they want to achieve. My son left with a good feeling about what he’ll be experiencing at going to this college, and I did too. Truman State, I give you two thumbs up!