Gold & Green Balloons

This week temperatures are to be well over one hundred. Despite the heat, a number of new freshmen and family members were on the UMR campus this morning. Today (Saturday, August 11) is the last PRO day for the 2007/2008 academic year. PRO is an acronym for "Preview, Registration, and Orientation." Students who attend a PRO session experience a variety of activities, including placement testing and registration for fall courses.
I went to PRO this morning to help a new student in English Education register for her fall courses. The opening activity occurred in St Pat’s Ballroom A in the Havener Center. At a couple of tables in the hall, PRO staff and student leaders answered questions and directed students and their parents into the opening activity. There were outbursts of laughter from the ballroom, so the activity must’ve been amusing as well as informative.
PRO events are cheerful — the student PRO leaders wear green shirts with gold trim; gold and green balloons float from the tables and, out on the campus, from the directional signs placed to guide students and their families on their treks across campus. ("Treks" because even at 10:00 AM today, it was very hot, with an intense sun and no breeze.) The student and I put together a good schedule for her to start her college career.
Each department has an advisor designated to advise PRO students. I did this for a number of years and enjoyed it. The PRO advisor gets to be the student’s initial contact with the specifics of the department’s academic program. The advisor usually can chat with the student, getting to know him or her a little better. Sometimes, the PRO advisor meets the student’s parents. Even briefly meeting the parents gives the advisor a sense of the student’s origins. While a young person almost always leaves home to go to college, taking the first steps in becoming an independent adult, faculty members too often see students in isolation from their origins. Having met one or both parents gives the faculty member a sense of who supports and encourages the student’s entering college.
The campus still isn’t fully populated yet. Saturday’s freshmen (65-70) are the first trickle of the flood to come.