Parents driving overloaded minivans flooded the campus of Brenau University as freshmen and transfer students moved into residence halls. On Saturday, 315 returning students will move into university housing, an administrator said.
Undoubtedly, there were many tearful goodbyes as parents pulled out of residence hall parking lots, leaving their offspring to fend for themselves for the first time.
Although Brenau freshman Courtnee Pettus, 18, is excited about the move from Lake Park to Brenau University, her mother, Crystal Williams, said she is having a hard time parting ways.
To ease her mother’s anxiety, Pettus bought her mother a Web camera so they can communicate face-to-face without having to make the five-hour drive.
"It’s not easy. I knew this day was going to come, but it seems it just came too fast," Williams said. "That’s my baby, and we’re five hours away."
Yet several students said they were thrilled about moving out of the home in which they grew up and moving into a new world all their own.
After parents left, students embarked on self-tours of Brenau, eager to meet new friends and get their bearings on the new campus.
Emily Kisor, assistant resident director for Brenau University, said the transition to college is one that takes time for both students and parents.
"Most students want their parents to move them in and leave, but students should probably let their parents stick around for a little bit and let them adjust," Kisor said.
Renee Agner, dean of student success and residence life, said it’s important that new students participate in freshman orientation activities over the next week. Agner has planned a comedy night, a movie night where students can watch movies outside on the big screen and the traditional Sunday skit night in which freshmen present skits to upperclassmen to introduce themselves to the student body.
"The worst thing they can do is sit in their room and not participate in activities," Agner said.
Scott Briell, senior vice president for enrollment management and student services, said Brenau University’s women’s college has expanded its enrollment to 880 students this year. He said there are 10 male day students enrolled in either the Gainesville campus’ nursing or performing arts programs. In addition, Agner said the women’s college retained more students this year than last, which suggests students are having positive experiences.
David Morrison, spokesman for Brenau University, said the majority of women’s college students are required to live on campus until age 21.
With an increased demand for student housing, the school is opening its newest 48-bed residence hall this week. Located on the corner of Boulevard and Park streets, Parklane Residence Hall will be home to 48 upperclassmen and graduate students this year.
Ashley Gonzalez, 18, is coming to Brenau from Lawrenceville. She said she’s most excited about classes, but looks forward to meeting her new roommate, as well.
"She’s a girl, obviously, so we should be alright," she said.
While most students will be exploring Brenau University with new friends and the roommates they’ll be getting to know well, Ciera and Kiera Brewer have a head start on the roommate bond. They’re twins.
The 18-year-old LaGrange natives said they wanted to room together at Crudup Hall. While Kiera Brewer said she came to Brenau for its dance program, Ciera Brewer said she’ll be exploring her options for a major at the university.
Mom Janice Brewer said she loves that her girls are experiencing college together.
"It’s amazing that they’re both at the same school and in the same room," she said. "They’ll venture out one day, but starting out, this is good."