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Freshman experience builds success at UNG

Freshman Experience
Students network with each other and university faculty and staff at the Oconee Campus Convocation Cookout.

This fall, nearly 4,000 new freshmen at the University of North Georgia (UNG) are making the transition from high school to college, and UNG offers a variety of ways to build support networks and help students become prepared and motivated to get the most out of the college experience.

As of Aug. 24, an unofficial head count puts UNG's fall enrollment at 17,629. That figure includes 3,892 new freshmen, representing 22 percent of the university's overall enrollment.

"As we welcome our new students, we hold events and programs that provide a relaxed setting for students and their parents to feel at ease with the transition from high school to college and become better acquainted with UNG and our mission and values," said Darcy Hayes, director of First Year Experience. "Students get to meet their peers, their faculty advisers and many helpful staff members so that they can head into their first weeks of college already feeling like they have a strong base of support."

During the start of each academic year, UNG holds Weeks of Welcome, featuring a series of events designed to get students ready for the school year while helping them connect with each other. Each campus holds events to acclimate students to its unique culture, and learn about the university community. Events range from orientations to group meetings and festivities.

"I chose UNG because everyone you come into contact with tries to help you out as much they possibly can," said Sy Go, a freshman at UNG's Gainesville Campus.

Go was impressed with the variety of student opportunities he learned about at orientation, where he talked with student leaders and student group representatives who had set up displays and information booths showcasing programs and clubs.

Students and parents also attend seminars in which they are introduced to university faculty, staff and student leaders. Seminar topics include academic life, facilities, traditions, social aspects and services offered at UNG.

For many freshmen on the university's Dahlonega Campus, Move-In Day is one of their most exciting experiences. Jessie Lewis said that although she was excited about moving in, much of what she has enjoyed so far stems from the influence of the university's Corps of Cadets. She noted the tradition and respect that everyone shows twice a day, in the morning when the flag is raised and Reveille is played and in the afternoon when the flag is lowered and Retreat is played.

At UNG's Oconee Campus, freshmen and other students celebrate the beginning of another academic year with the annual Convocation Cookout. Grilled food, a live band and a familial atmosphere encourage students to make new friends and network with student support personnel and representatives of students groups.

Freshman Jamboree
Students at the Freshman Jamboree.

"My favorite thing about this campus is the community," said Grace Magrino, president of the Oconee Campus Student Government Association. "Faculty and staff are always ready to offer help, and professors always know your name."

Faculty and staff on UNG's two newest campuses also work to connect with freshmen and welcome them to the UNG community.

The Blue Ridge Campus, which just opened in August, builds upon UNG's existing dual-enrollment courses offered in collaboration with the Union and Fannin County school systems and allows students to earn both college and high school credit at the same time.

In addition to a number of students taking core curriculum courses, the Cumming Campus, opened in 2012, is a hub for students interested in dual-enrollment and adult-learners looking to begin a new degree program.

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