COLUMBIA — On Friday, as Elizabeth Dimond watched her son exchange contact information with new friends on the steps of Jesse Hall, she seemed happy, even proud.
But as she talked about son Trey Dimond's departure for college and her new status as an empty nester, her motherly pangs came through.
Total: 15,000 people.
Sessions: 24 for freshmen, five for transfer students.
Year began: 1969, though it was not called Summer Welcome until a couple years later.
Cost: $150 for enrollment fee.
Staying in dorm: Less than $30 a night.
Servings of Andy's Frozen Custard: 450-500 servings per night.
Activities: Three small groups of students are organized based on where they will live in the fall. There are sessions about community living, health and wellness and academics, as well as meetings with academic advisors.
Variety show: Features skits and dances put on by the Summer Welcome leaders with themes including student/parent relationships, roommate interactions and other resources students might need during their college careers.
"It will be very sad," she said.
The Dimonds, who are from the Chicago area, were on campus last week for the 2012 Summer Welcome, an orientation for new MU students and their families.
*This year's program is the largest since it was started in 1969. Nearly 6,800 students will attend Summer Welcome this year, up more than 450 from last year, said David Rielley, director of new student programs and senior coordinator for the Department of Student Life. That includes about 6,100 freshmen and about 700 transfer students, he said.
There will be 29 sessions this summer — 24 for freshmen and five for transfer students —which is three more sessions than there were in 2011, Rielley said. Registration closed in early June instead of early July.
The growth in Summer Welcome mirrors the continuing increase in freshman enrollment. Although numbers aren't firm yet, almost 6,500 freshmen are expected on campus this fall.
The two-day welcome is meant to provide students and parents with necessary information and resources to improve their college experience. Peggy Clear was visiting from Belton with her husband, Dick Clear, and her soon-to-be freshman daughter, Courtney Clear. Peggy Clear called it information overload. Still, the family was enjoying itself.
Peggy Clear is excited for her daughter to go to college and get involved with school, but she doesn't want academics to take second place. Courtney Clear, who will live in Johnston Hall and take 13 credit hours in her first semester, plans to major in business.
"I think she'll come down here and never come home," Peggy Clear said.
For parents, there are usually some anxieties coming into Summer Welcome. Part of the information they get is to help them help their children when problems come up later, Rielley said.
"I'm excited for her, and she's ready, but it'll be hard," said Lori Giffey of Homewood, Ill., whose daughter, Jordan Giffey, plans to major in journalism.
Jordan Giffey applied to three schools and decided on MU after a campus tour, her mother said, adding that while they still made a visit to the University of Iowa, there was no comparison. They skipped a visit to the third school.
Josephine Peterson plans to study broadcast journalism and French; her dream is to work for the BBC as a political correspondent. While at Summer Welcome, the Dallas freshman met with her adviser and took the French placement exam.
"I feel really comfortable here — that I don’t have to pretend to be something I'm not," Peterson said.
Students at Summer Welcome also learn about health and wellness, roommate relationships and good study habits, Rielley said.
When this year's Summer Welcome wraps up next month, it will almost be time to start the next one. Preparation for next year's Summer Welcome begins at the end of August.
New students tend to start out shy and self-conscious about seeming silly, Rielley said. Members of the Summer Welcome staff aim to have fun in their role and engage in a little silliness themselves. He said it's part of their job to portray the message: "This is college. You can be yourself."
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.