By Chris Kieffer / NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Diane Souter admits that she was frightened last week when she first stepped foot on Itawamba Community College’s Tupelo campus.
Souter is trying to switch careers after a back injury forced her to leave her last job. Having been away from school for years, she said it was difficult for her to attend ICC’s Adult orientation. But her concerns were quickly relieved.
“I was scared to death when I first entered the building, but the workers are so nice and they make you feel at home and they want you to do well,” said Souter, who plans to study business marketing.
This was the second year Itawamba Community College hosted an orientation geared specifically for adult learners.
After holding a single session last year, the school expanded the program this year, offering two separate one-day orientations and hosting multiple sessions at each.
“Adult students need to get oriented to college like any 18- or 19-year-old,” said ICC counselor Mande Miller. “A lot of times we forget that they have questions and concerns and sometimes even more because they are balancing a lot more.”
Miller said about 25 adult learners attended the June orientation and more than 50 came to the one held last week.
At the orientation, students were able to take a campus tour and to visit the offices for financial aid, child care services, student I.D. and yearbook photos and academic counselors.
“It is important that they know where all of the offices are and they know where to go when they get here,” Miller said.
The program also featured a general information overview to the university that explained attendance policy, how to buy textbooks, parking regulations, adding and dropping classes and other questions that the students had.
Other sessions taught the students how to learn ICC’s computer portal, provided information on choosing majors and detailed study tips to allow students to be more successful.
Also attending the orientation was James Fitzpatrick of Chesterville, who said he is returning to school to study heating and air because jobs are difficult to find. He said the orientation session was useful for him making the transition back to school.
Fellow adult learner Ryan Turney also said that it was helpful to have a session geared toward students like him.
“Everyone is really nice, and what problems I did have, they worked them out quickly,” Turney said.
Miller said the idea for this year’s orientation grew from feedback the school received after last year. She said that with so many students taking online classes now, it was important for students to receive specific training in using ICC’s computer network and the Blackboard websites used by the school’s professors to give assignments.
“We wanted to try to have a lot of smaller groups so everyone would feel comfortable asking questions,” Miller said. “We learned that they wanted breakout sessions and more hands-on opportunities.”
For Souter, it was a welcomed change.
“I learned how to use their computer system and get into different portals and where to go for help,” Souter said.
“I liked the small sessions, and the instructors spent more time with individuals.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.