On August 19, 2023, Meredith College welcomed new students to campus. Alumnae, faculty, staff, and student leaders celebrated the arrival of new students, families, and friends, who were greeted by a rainbow arch and cheering students.
“It’s a super exciting day to have new students on campus. Especially because I moved in during COVID, this is more exciting and back to normal,” said Freya Dahlgren, ’24, a member of the student orientation crew.
The four-day New Student Orientation comprises a host of activities that facilitate new students’ transition and help them begin to find their place within the Meredith community. This year’s programming has expanded to include an opening night bonfire, yoga in McIver Amphitheatre, line dancing, guided meditation, and game night. Students also take a tour of Massey House, the President’s residence, participate in the Honor Code Ceremony, meet with faculty and student advisors, and much more.
Orientation also includes special programs for students who are coming into Meredith with different life experiences and qualifications, such as a lunch for Early College students and a fast-track schedule for Wings and transfer students.
“We’re excited about a robust orientation schedule that combines lots of fun, new activities with our favorite orientation traditions,” said Chrissie Bumgardner, co-director of First Year Experience. “We want students to feel welcome and engaged from the moment they step foot on campus.”
New students come to Meredith having completed the CliftonStrengths assessment; as part of orientation, they participate in Strengths 101 workshops, during which they explore their natural talents and discover how to apply them for success in college and beyond.
StrongPoints® director Beth Hwang, ’13, said it’s important for students to bring an engaged mindset to orientation.
“Their active presence while learning about these resources enhances their ability to recall the student-specific support mechanisms,” she said.
After Orientation, students can sign up for individual strengths coaching by certified Strengths Coaches. The coaches help students develop new skills, problem-solve using strengths, and gain confidence. Follow-up appointments can be used to track progress and provide ongoing support.
Last year, Meredith launched a new pre-orientation program to help students successfully transition to college. The 2023 Summer Bridge Program welcomed more than 80 students, who moved in early on Wednesday, August 16.
Participants earned two hours of general elective credit before beginning their fall semester through focused courses designed to help strengthen important skills like writing, oral presentation, and research.
Assistant Professor of English Zach Linge taught a composition and rhetorical strategy course titled “Brief Conversations with Giants.”
“What I have seen over these intensive two weeks is that students are now connected to their cohort, confident in expressing their opinions, and capable of performing and presenting research that they are passionate about – with little to no time to prepare,” said Linge. “These students are extraordinary. I hope their time in Bridge has helped them see that.”
International students and fall-season athletes also arrived on campus prior to Move-In Day. The Office of Alumnae Relations hosted a karaoke and ice cream social on Thursday, August 17, for all students who moved in early.
On Saturday of move-in, 50 alumnae volunteers were found on campus throughout the day to welcome new students and their families. In addition to distributing much-needed water and staffing directional stations, alumnae gave each new student a welcome gift.
“I love move-in day – it’s my favorite tradition at Meredith. There’s a lot of hope for the adventures and friendships to come,” said Anne Robinson, ’17. “My advice to students is to embrace that hope and appreciate Meredith for the special place it is.”
Beyond orientation, Alumnae Relations provides an array of events and other forms of student support.
The kick-off for the 1891 Club, the student alumnae association, will be held on Thursday, August 24. At this event, students can learn more about the organization while tie-dying a shirt or making a friendship bracelet. The 1891 Club also coordinates giveaways, coffee and connections, and other events for members.
In addition to the 1891 Club, Alumnae Relations sponsors student events and giveaways throughout the academic year, including during the First Day of Class (FDOC), Last Day of Class (LDOC), Ring Week, Cornhuskin’, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Senior Induction Ceremony, and Stunt, a field day.
Last year, Alumnae Relations launched a new program, Life After Meredith, sponsoring four sessions for current students that allow them to connect with and learn from a panel of alumnae experts regarding financial planning, interview skills, leveraging their network, and creating a resume.
“Our office is working to coordinate this year’s series, which will feature two sessions per semester and a dinner at the end of the academic year,” said Hilary Allen,’01, director of alumnae relations.
Meredith College’s incoming class includes approximately 420 new undergraduate students, including 340 new first-year students. The College will also welcome 81 transfer, second-degree, or readmitted students. Members of this class come from North Carolina and 18 other states and the countries of Guatemala, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Trinidad & Tobago. In addition, Meredith expects to enroll more than 110 new graduate and post-baccalaureate program students.