Today, I saw the surest sign that the fall semester at NWMSU is approaching: the university grounds crew out on College Avenue re-stenciling the safety yellow Bearcat paws on the pavement. This yearly ritual necessarily precedes the arrival of over 5,000 students (including the biggest freshman class we've had for years) next week.
Incoming freshmen will arrive on Thursday for Advantage events, including the first Bearcat football game of the year. Their first class will be days earlier than the official August 27th start date -- they will attend Freshman Seminar on Friday, August 24th and again on the early afternoon of Sunday August 26th.
The rest of the students will meander in over the next few days. On campus, Cat CREW will help students move their belongings into the residence halls and apartments, while off-campus, other students will be finding friends and family members to help them move in. Wal-mart will be more crowded than it's been all summer.
By the time the students arrive, however, I will already have been in nearly a week's worth of meetings. My first meeting is the annual Freshman Seminar faculty/peer advisor training. I have been teaching the Family and Consumer Sciences Department's section of FS for about four years. This year, I will have 25 students -- unless, as often happens, I find three or four more new students at my classroom door, transferring into my section.
This half-day meeting will be followed by faculty development days, where my colleagues and I will meet and greet and plan departmental goals for the semester. I will give a dog-and-pony show of my powerpoint portfolio stack. (I figured that, as we pride ourselves on being the "Electronic Campus", my portfolio should be hyperlinked and burned to CD!) The College of Education and campus-wide meetings also will occur during this week. I will follow Friday's morning meetings with an entire afternoon reviewing schedules for my freshmen.
I find myself eagerly awaiting the new semester, as I do each year. To me, the academic calendar has been the only calendar that makes sense: Shouldn't the year start as the weather is cooling? Shouldn't April be pregnant with anticipation of new careers and lives launching? Shouldn't summer be a change of schedule, slower-paced to cope with the heat?