UI students begin 'fantastic journey'
URBANA – "I'm ready to cry," said Pat Charnas, as her daughter Kate rose from her chair in the Illini Union and left to attend a meeting with advisers from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
"It's a little overwhelming," Charnas said, looking around the crowded ballroom. Kate is her oldest child, her first to attend college.
The Charnases left their house in Darien at 6:15 a.m. Thursday to attend IStart, the University of Illinois' summer registration program. They joined several hundred incoming freshmen, parents, plus the occasional younger sibling (often looking thrilled to be there).
After the students and their families walked into the Union, program organizers separated them, sending the student one way and parents the other. They want the students to register themselves, said summer registration coordinator Dena Lawrence.
Linda Cox, director of the UI's Counseling Center, welcomed the Class of 2010 to "the first leg of a fantastic journey."
Current UI students ran down the aisles, cheered and introduced themselves. Then the new students headed to meetings with advisers and parents listened to a panel entitled "Family Relationships and College Life," where they asked questions about college safety, working on campus and a range of other topics.
Students register for classes, receive their student ID cards, can meet with housing staff, counseling staff, financial services staff, you name it.
"It's a very packed day," Lawrence said.
The UI organizes 34 registration programs throughout the summer beginning May 30. Last year, the UI switched from a two-day registration and orientation to a one-day registration program. Orientation activities are now held during Welcome Week in August.
All incoming freshmen are required to attend. Participation can vary by day. One day brought about 900 participants, Lawrence said.
Three student coordinators and 27 IStart Student Leaders help run the show. These are current UI students who have been there. They greet parents and students at the Assembly Hall, where they were told to park. They chat with incoming students at the bus stop and answer questions throughout the day.
Most common question: Where's the bathroom?
Most unusual question: How do I convince my son to break up with his girlfriend before he comes to school here?
"I love to talk, so this job is perfect," said sophomore Jessie Brown of Buffalo, N.Y.
The leaders applied last fall, attended two interviews and completed 75 hours of training during the spring semester.
"Most of the time they (incoming students) are more confused than nervous," said sophomore Samantha Johnson of Hoopeston.
"It's a lot of information at once," said Eunsun Nam of Buffalo Grove as she flipped through the class schedule. The incoming freshman was due to meet with her adviser at 1 p.m. Thursday. She admitted she was a little nervous about a few things, mainly about picking the right classes and about housing. She sent in her housing application a little late and wasn't sure what dorm she would live in beginning this fall.
"There are so many handouts," said Julia Kandlik of Lisle.
Luckily, students get a free blaze orange bag when they register.