A crew of volunteers swarmed around the residence halls on Anderson University’s campus Thursday waiting for a car, any car, to be unloaded.
As Dean Branson, director of student programming, pointed tightly-packed vehicles toward temporary parking spaces, returning students and some experienced parents waited for any chance they had to help another freshman into the dorms.
"They’re responsible for unpacking, but we get their stuff up to the room as quickly as we can," Branson said.
Cars came loaded with all the comforts of home — lamps, rugs, television — downsized to fit into each of the single rooms that most students must share with an unfamiliar roommate.
"We have to know that the people coming here have never done this before," Branson said. "So we have to make them feel at home."
Hominess is what attracted Nathan Breneman to AU. The freshman from Dublin, Ohio, said the size of the campus made the school seem like a good fit. He was settling into Dunn Hall on Thursday, but said he wasn’t nervous about starting classes, although he was worried that living without his own car would take a lot of getting used to.
His parents were also wondering about how their lives would be different with their oldest son out of the house.
"I just know the home will be a lot quieter," said Jenny, Nathan’s mother. "He’s the talker. He’s the one who always has something going on."
Nathan is one of an estimated 600 new undergraduates enrolling at AU this fall, the school reported. The university expects the size of its full-time freshman class to increase between 12 and 15 percent this year, but exact figures will not be known until late September.
Approximately 80 percent of new undergraduate students are coming from Indiana or neighboring states, but 47 states and 30 countries are represented in the total undergraduate population of about 1,850 students, the university reported.
Callie Zelber and Kelly Thomas moved into Rice Hall on Thursday. Strangers less than a year ago, the two girls met though Anderson University’s new social networking site for accepted students, a Web site that lets people seriously considering AU to talk.
Admissions counselor Christy Kihm said lots of students had found roommates using the site. "It was a big hit."
Zelber, of Indianapolis, and Thomas, of Miamisburg, Ohio, said they connected over their shared love of the Disney princesses, and now their dorm room is festooned with images of Belle from "Beauty and the Beast."
The girls said it was a challenge to decide which clothes to bring, and they both made a point to pack photographs and their beloved teddy bears.
With five days left before classes start, Kelly said she’d be using the time to relax, meet some new people, and if there’s time, find out where her classes are. dresser to herself, she joked that it was a good excuse to go buy more clothes.
—Barrett Newkirk is a reporter for the Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.