S.O.A.R.ing Back to School
Each year, as August ends and September rolls around, people everywhere re-acclimate to the flow of school. As the future college students at Texas A&M University-Texarkana planned and made their way to campus, faculty, staff, and student leaders prepared to welcome them through the Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (S.O.A.R.) program. Through S.O.A.R., incoming freshmen and their parents are welcomed on campus for a fun-filled and informative crash course in college life! “An in-person orientation is critical to the success of a first-time college student!” said Michael Stephenson, Director of Recruiting and New Student Programs at TAMUT. “Research shows us that students who are connected and engaged on campus are more likely to be successful”
Over the summer, Stephenson, along with a team of academic advisors, college recruiters, deans, professors, coaches and 14 student leaders, coordinated and led eight orientation sessions to prepare over 200 incoming freshmen. “The overall atmosphere of campus is definitely experiencing some excitement at us opening back up.” said Stephenson. This excitement is obvious when walking around campus. Whether its groups of new students making what will become lifelong friendships, or a busy three-story water slide on the campus’ lawn, The Eagles have definitely returned to the nest!
Texas A&M University-Texarkana sees no shortage of programs to help students thrive, ranging from on campus counseling, to first year experience coaches, career development specialists, student mentors, tutors, and extremely understanding and supportive faculty, TAMUT makes sure that its students (first year or returning) have the resources they need to have a successful college experience. “I think we give them a lot of tools when they are coming in,” said Alana Briley, Coordinator of Student Life and Alumni. “I think the biggest thing is encouraging students to get involved. That is something that we truly value and cherish on our campus.”
TAMUT has no shortage of student involvement opportunities either. With over 40+ student organizations, a thriving Greek community, hyper-involved student government, and niche groups for almost any interest, students can find or start a group that suits them. Even through the pandemic, TAMUT pushed the need for student engagement, “The pandemic has taught us a lot as far as engagement is concerned. Virtual engagement is very difficult to do... we learned we had to try a lot of different things,” Stephenson said. “However, it taught us a positive, in that we can reach an audience who may be unlikely to come to campus for events. We’re look forward to meeting them where they are.”
Staff and faculty are not the only ones who are happy to meet new students. TAMUT excels at churning out student leaders more than ready to help their peers. Brooklyn Bailey, junior and Student Body President at TAMUT, said the best piece of advice she could offer any student would be, “Ask questions, even if you think they are the wrong questions. It only takes one person to help another one person.” This sentiment can be seen in how the Eagles refer to themselves as “The Eagle Family.” Briley said, “The fact that we are a smaller college... everyone knows everyone, so there is always someone there to help you, whether it be faculty, staff, or students.”
It is an exciting time at A&M-Texarkana. There truly is no better time than the present to be a TAMUT Eagle, whether you are a first-generation, first-year student, a doctoral candidate finishing up your doctorate degree, a senior getting ready for grad school, or a transfer preparing for the rest of your college journey, the Eagle family is ready to welcome you to the nest. They will make sure you get connected and involved, get access to the right resources, and get on the right path to help you S.O.A.R. As a college student, I can truly say there is nothing better than knowing the people on your campus truly care about you! Being a part of the “nest,” truly means being part of the Eagle family!