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South Carolina State Universities Welcome Students With Open Arms

Second to the stress of getting accepted to your choice college is feeling at home once you get there. Students at universities in South Carolina can take comfort in the fact that institutions go above and beyond in the freshman welcome department, by offering unique ways to help incoming students bond, form friendships, and get acquainted to college life.

A Novel Approach to Starting College

When beginning life at South Carolina state universities, finding something in common with your fellow freshman is a great way to get acquainted. That's the idea at Wofford College (Spartanburg), where all incoming freshmen read the same novel over the summer, so when the school year begins, they have some common ground to start from in getting to know one another. Once at school, they discuss and write essays on the book in their humanities seminars and also get the chance to have their essays published in a campus booklet. It's not uncommon for authors to visit the campus as Ha Jin, author of this year's freshman class assignment, "Waiting," did, to gie a book talk and meet the students.

Similarly, the University of South Carolina's First-Year Reading Experience involves all 3,000+ members of its freshman class. This summer, students will receive a copy of the novel "Mountains Beyond Mountains," at their orientation. When they return in the fall, frosh will enjoy a panel discussion about the book, then form smaller groups of about 20 for more in-depth analysis with faculty and staff discussion leaders. The assignment brings students of all backgrounds and from across the country together and allows them to discuss something they now have in common.

Dorm Dynamics

More and more South Carolina state universities are creating what's known as learning communities, in which students with a common learning interest dorm together. At Clemson University (Clemson), the RISE (Residential Community in Science and Engineering) Program is unique as it is geared toward first-year students studying engineering and science.

Upperclassmen also studying engineering and science serve as Peer Advisors. They live in the residence halls and help their freshman dormmates with the high school-to-college transition, introduce them to academic resources, and refer students to various campus departments as necessary. Students are also encouraged to embrace in-hall study groups, and take advantage of the academic advisor that has office hours in the residence hall.

Other perks for RISE students include weekly e-mail newsletters that keep them aware of events, seminars to help them adapt to college academics, and fun orientation barbeques and icebreakers.

At Columbia College (Columbia), freshmen reside at the Asbury Freshman Center. Although students enjoy the typical college dorm amenities -- a study room, a TV room, a student meeting area, a patio, and a lounge -- it's the hospitality of South Carolina colleges and universities that stands out. As soon as incoming students step foot on campus to move in, upperclassmen, faculty, and staff are already there waiting to greet the frosh and their families, and to lend an unpacking helping hand.

By researching South Carolina universities, you've already taken the first step in ensuring a smooth college transition. Keep it up, and be sure to ask your prospective schools about their first-year programs and activities.