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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Thousands of students call the UA their new home

Kaylie Foster (right), a resident assistant at Colonia de la Paz and marketing senior, and Emma Bishop (left), a student volunteer, help move students into the Colonia de la Paz Residence Hall on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. This is the first year that Residence Life used a central check-in system.

After roughly 13 hours on the road coming from Colorado, Lindsey Willman pulls up to her new home at Hopi Lodge Residence Hall. T-shirts, banners and flyers display the new theme for resident check-in: “Welcome Home.”

“Nervous is an understatement,” said Justine Willman about dropping her daughter off for her first year of college.

Lindsey Willman joined more than 6,000 undergraduate students moving into their new homes.

“It was hard because I had to move out of the home I had lived in for 17 years,” said incoming freshman Maria Arey. “But it was also like I’m changing up my whole environment.”

As she arranged photos of her friends and pets onto her shelves and unpacked items she has brought from her house to her new room in Yavapai Residence Hall, Arey talked about missing the comforts of home such as talking face-to-face with her mother.

Arey said easier access to classes and a chance to better manage her time are only a few of the benefits of leaving what is familiar to her at home.

Lindsey Willman also expressed concern about leaving behind the familiarity of home.

“I’m feeling a little excited but also nervous. I have never lived with anyone except for my parents,” Willman said. “It will be very different accommodating to one another.”

As they participated in dorm check-in, incoming students were immersed in the Wildcat atmosphere in McKale Center, which was decked out in UA spirit. Student-run staff assisted students who were immediately separated from their families to independently complete the dorm check-in.

“The check-in process was very simple. Everything was laid out and easy to see — especially directions around campus,” Lindsey Willman said. “When my sister moved into college in Colorado, it wasn’t as easy for her.”

In previous years, the dorm check-in process occurred at individual dorms. The UA implemented a centralized process in McKale this year in order to reduce the lines in front of the residence halls and so students and families could be in air-conditioned areas, according to Dana Robbins-Murray, assistant director of marketing for Residence Life.

Despite the large number of incoming residents, there are still a few open beds available for students seeking on-campus housing in the dorms due to some cancellations, according to Robbins-Murray.
Living in the dorms can be beneficial to students, she added.

“Statistics show that students who live in a residence hall at least one year tend to have almost a 10 percent higher GPA than students who don’t live on campus their first year,” Robbins-Murray said. “Also, students who live on campus have a higher percentage of graduation in four years.”

The energy didn’t die down after students left McKale. With almost 500 residents moving into Colonia de la Paz, there was a crowd of excited parents and siblings helping roll in boxes stuffed with dorm essentials.

By having check-in at McKale, resident assistants had more time this year to interact with new residents, making them feel comfortable and welcome, said Kaylie Fisher, an RA in La Paz.
Fisher said her goal for the year is to make La Paz a community through hall dinners and other programs for residents.

“I just want to be there for the students in my hall,” Fisher said. “I’m happy I have time to answer any questions today and be there for them. I’m planning on designating a time for ‘office hours’ every week where students can just come to my room and talk.”

Lindsey Willman said she is looking forward to meeting new people and stepping outside of her comfort zone. Arey said she is also excited to meet new people, although many students from her high school are attending the UA. One of her main goals this semester is to meet people from different states or high schools.

“I want to meet at least 10 new people that I just completely don’t know at all,” Arey said.

As move-in day came to an end, goodbyes were exchanged and the frenzy began to die down.

“It’s going to be a little tough saying bye to Lindsey because we are pretty close,” said David Willman, Lindsey’s father. “It’s bittersweet, but I know she is going to do very well here.”

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