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Welcome, Freshmen: Move-In Day Arrives for New UM Students

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    Assisted by their parents, hundreds of freshmen moved into UM's Hecht and Stanford Residential Colleges last week.

    Lauren Walter’s ninth-floor room in Stanford Residential College was still a work in progress: unopened boxes scattered about the floor, a mattress missing its sheets and comforter, a mini-refrigerator that hadn’t been plugged in.

    But soon her new digs for her first year of college would look like a cozy home away from home, thanks to the organizational skills of her mother, Mary, who busied about the room putting every box, container, and piece of clothing in its place.

    August 18 was move-in day for about 2,000 University of Miami freshmen. The school’s newest enrollees checked into Hecht and Stanford Residential Colleges, pulling carts loaded down with clothes, computers, refrigerators, and microwave ovens across the parking lot and eventually up to their rooms.

    Many, like Walter, got assistance from their parents.

    “She [Lauren] wanted to bring a lot of stuff,” a smiling Mary Walter said. “But I tried to explain to her that she didn’t need so much. I have a feeling we’re going to be taking a lot back home.”

    Home is Sarasota, Florida, where Lauren developed an interest in neuroscience while in high school. She’ll major in the subject at UM.

    Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado, left, an associate professor of religious studies and faculty master at Hecht Residential College, talks with students waiting to get assistance from Information Technology staff.

    On the fourth floor of Stanford, 18-year-olds Jon Lee, of San Diego, and Aaron Kruger, of Kansas City, were settling into what would be home for the entire academic year: a rectangular-shaped room with two desks, two beds, and two closets. Both are physics majors who are excited at the prospect of taking several classes together.

    The two were matched through the Department of Housing and Residential Life’s Roommate Search program, which is accessible to incoming freshmen via the myUM portal.

    “Once they have completed their housing application on-line, the student creates a profile by answering a series of questions about themselves, their interests, and academics, and also weighting their responses in terms of importance to them,” said Jon Baldessari, associate director of housing and residential life. “They then match their profile with other active profiles to come up with a ‘favorites’ list.”

    Using that list, the students then email each other through a secured system. “If someone from their favorites has a mutual interest, they can agree to be roommates, and the system feeds that to our housing assignment system,” Baldessari said, noting that more than 1,500 profiles were created this year with over 800 students pairing themselves up.

    While being able to communicate with their new roommates prior to arriving on campus helps relieve some of the tension associated with the first-time college experience, UM’s incoming freshman class still must clear other hurdles, according to Baldessari.

    “One of the early challenges is being away from home without their family for the first time—excitement and anticipation can quickly turn to nervous stress and homesickness,” Baldessari said. “Our staff, particularly the resident assistants, really start off from day one to transition the new students into their on-campus living community, first with their roommate and on their individual floor, and then into the residential college as a whole before venturing out into the campus in general as well as the Miami community.”

    On Friday, Lauren Walter wasn’t the only member of her family experiencing anxiety.

    “We’ll miss her a lot,” her mother said, as father Otto and brother Andrew began assembling Lauren’s futon bed. “I told her not to be surprised one day to hear a secret knock on her door.”

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