The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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AARO greets new Mustangs

Incoming students get acquainted with Dallas, SMU

As incoming first-year students prepare to make the leap fromhigh school to the Hilltop, labeled by some to represent the mostdifficult transition in a person’s life, they can be pummeledwith an array of different emotions and questions.

Some issues facing the SMU Class of 2008 this month may includemoving away for the first time, making new friends and avoiding thedreaded 8 a.m. classes.

In order to ease the tensions of the newest Mustangs, the Officeof New Student Programs will welcome incoming first-years ontocampus with July’s annual Academic Advising, Registration,and Orientation (AARO) sessions.

Since 1966, AARO has been a trademark of the SMU communityaccording to the New Student Programs website, “designed toassist [students] in making a comfortable transition to Universitylife at SMU.”

For two days, each new student is taken under the wing of onegroup leader for a 30-hour crash course on campus life.

First-years experience residence life in McElvaney Hall, dine inUmphrey Lee and soak in priceless information regarding campusresources in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.

According to sophomore Austin Follett, AARO lived up to itssolid reputation by making his move from high school to college assmooth as possible.

“The University did a great job introducing me tocampus,” he said. “AARO helped me get over a lot of theinhibitions I had about college and got me ready for thefall.”

Follett’s positive feelings toward the program, whichincludes 10 sessions of about 125 students at a time, werereflected throughout many who felt AARO helped get their collegecareer off on the right foot.

“I loved AARO, it really allowed me to see campus on apersonal level,” said junior EMIS major Trevor Weichmann.”I also was able to finally realize that my dream of going toSMU had come true.”

The common threads that seem to make AARO one of the mostbeneficial experiences for incoming first-years are meeting newpeople, getting better acquainted with the University, and amidsummer injection of excitement when looking toward collegelife.

“AARO was my first real glimpse of what SMU would belike,” said sophomore business and spanish double majorMaribel Guzman. “While the schedule of events was seeminglyendless, it just made me more excited, almost anxious to startschool.”

Sophomore Brita Andercheck left AARO with a greater knowledge ofUniversity life, something that she had never experiencedbefore.

“The most important thing I learned from AARO was thatgoing away to college was not as scary as I had initiallyimagined,” she said.

“Staying in a dorm, sharing a room with another person,and eating in a cafeteria were all brand new experiences forme,” Andercheck explained, “and I knew that when I cameto SMU in the fall, I would be coming home to an exciting new worldof opportunities and friendships.”

According to senior marketing major Chi Nguyen, “it issuch an amazing way to alleviate any fears and anxiety of being afirst-year student making the transition from high school tocollege.”

Nguyen, who will serve as an AARO leader this summer, hopes thatnew students will return in August excited about what the next fewyears will hold.

“I want [the first-years] to start feeling at home here atSMU,” she said, “and get pumped about coming back forthe fall to start a new, exciting chapter in theirlives.”

Junior broadcast journalism and political science double majorKaty Blakey, another firsttime leader, shares Nguyen’s hopesof a beneficial experience for her groups.

“I want students to leave AARO comfortable with theircampus, their peers and the year ahead.”

Blakey also wants incoming students to look at the leaders as anexample of life on the Hilltop.

“Hopefully, first-years will see how the current studentson campus are dedicated to their school,” she said,”and understand that we are here not only for the two daysthey spend with us, but for the year ahead and beyond.”

A major benefit of the AARO program is to introduce first-yearsto upperclassmen with whom they can relate; after all, the groupleaders were incoming students at one point as well.

“The experience that I had at AARO coming into my firstyear was so awesome that I was convinced it was something I wantedto do,” said sophomore marketing major Gabe Travers on hisrole as a leader this summer.

Travers also commented on the wide array of opportunities to getinvolved on campus.

“I hope [the students] leave AARO with the realizationthat with so many opportunities,” he said, “SMU reallyhas something for everyone.”

At the resource expo, which takes place in the Hughes-TriggBallroom East during AARO, new students have the opportunity tobrowse different organizations on campus and obtain a glimpse ofwhat extracurricular activities they may want to partake in duringtheir time on the Hilltop.

During each session, every student will have the opportunity tomeet on an individual basis with their academic adviser, at whichpoint the fall schedule of classes will be discussed.

“AARO is the best time to get oneself oriented with thecampus, the curriculum, and most importantly, the people,”said sophomore Neil Herskowitz.

“Although one is doused with a plethora ofinformation regarding SMU,” he explained, “it is mostimportant to get ones questions answered and begin to find theresources one will use in the upcoming years.”

In addition to the broad diversity of students present at eachAARO conference, SMU will host three transfer AARO sessions, onehonors session and one session for music majors.

Through a collection of programs geared toward first-years andtheir families, AARO hopes to qualm fears and spark friendships asstudents make their way into the college experience.

Sophomore group leader Emily Graham is optimistic when lookingtoward the future for the SMU Class of ’08.

“I want the incoming first-year class to leave theirrespective AARO sessions feeling positive and hopeful about theyear that awaits them in the fall.”

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