Title: AU freshmen move into dorms
Kneeling in the back of her parents' minivan, Allison Suitts enthusiastically rummaged through boxes and bags, throwing them on the ground to be taken up to her room by the moving crew. Leaning against the van parked outside of Anderson University's Rice Hall, her father, Ron, listed a string of concerns that can only be felt by a parent sending his child off to college for the first time.
"I'm worried. It's hard. I'm worried about her safety," Ron Suitts said. "She's the oldest. We've got two more at home and, I don't know. It's just hard."
Listening patiently to her father, Allison adjusted her cats-eye sunglasses. "I can't wait to sleep in the dorm. I'm really excited but not very nervous. I think it just hasn't hit me yet, hasn't had time to sink in."
The Anderson University campus was a steady mixture of emotion from both parents and students as the freshman class of 2000 spent the morning hauling boxes, clothes and refrigerators into their dorm rooms.
Junior Brandon Farmer, who is studying social work at AU, was one of the numerous upperclassmen volunteering to help the freshmen get settled.
And helping the freshmen get settled is no small task. Enrollment for the 2000/2001 school year, while exact numbers are still unknown, is thought to have surpassed that of previous years.
Sweat dripping from his blond spiked hair, Farmer placed the Compaq computer he was carrying down on the grass and allowed himself a brief respite.
"The heat is bad, but I love doing this," he said. "I love being around people, that's part of why I am going into social work."
Farmer, who remembers what it was like to be a nervous freshman, said his advice to the frazzled students is simple. "Meet friends. That is the best way to get used to college."
Homesickness to some degree is usually a concern with freshmen.
Resident Director Mark Whitsel said there are a couple of ground rules to combat homesickness in new freshmen.
"It's not necessarily a good idea to go home the first weekend," he said. "That seems to make it worse. Try to make it until mid-September, get over that hump, before you go home for the first time."
Whitsel also recommends keeping in touch with Mom and Dad through letters and phone calls. Sometimes, though, it is the parents, not the students, who need the advice on how to keep it together after school starts.
"I'm doing my best, but it's kind of hard," said Belinda Porter, as she helped unpack daughter Carrie's boxes.
Wringing a sheet in her hands, Belinda's eyes teared up as her daughter looked on sympathetically.
"I know it's for the best," Belinda said. "I'm just going to miss her so much."
---Keri S. McGrath is a reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.