Laughs, hugs and tears as Class of 2017 moves to Elon
Two new residence halls opened for the first time Friday as members of the largest incoming class in Elon University history moved into their homes for the upcoming academic year.
They brought with them refrigerators and guitars and televisions and large plastic storage bins. There were large mirrors and bedding and plenty of food. Laptops and sports gear were both common, too.
And it certainly didn’t take long for Elon University’s Class of 2017 to make itself at home. Cars wound through campus even before the official start to freshmen move-in day, which boasted weather that couldn’t have been more conducive to unloading minivans and SUVs packed to the brim.
It was a day of firsts not just for students, but for some campus facilities as well.
Houses 4 and 5 of the Global Neighborhood welcomed their inaugural residents. More than 200 students will live in the two buildings this year, with three more residence halls - as well as a large commons building - remain on schedule to be completed by next August as part of a Residential Campus Plan that will transform the learning experience at Elon in the next few years.
The Global Neighborhood occupies the spot where Story and Harper centers once stood and offers a dynamic environment where learning and active engagement take place throughout the day and night for all Elon students. The 50,000-square-foot commons building under construction will house the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center, classrooms, faculty offices and ample study rooms and large gathering spaces.
Julia Savely of Andover, Mass., was one of the first students Friday morning moving into Building 4 of the Global Neighborhood. A freshman with interest in business and economics, choosing Elon was easy. “I saw that you could minor in entrepreneurship, which other schools don’t have,” she said “That was a major thing. And I wanted to be in North Carolina because it was so different from Massachusetts.”
Savely’s mother, Lea, accompanied her daughter for move-in and praised the atmosphere she found during their arrival.
“I love the sense of community that Elon seems to have. There’s a great feeling of family here,” Lea Savely said. “I can’t get over how incredible the move-in experience was. In less than five minutes she was in her room. That’s impressive.”
The freshman class is the largest in university history with 1,460 students starting their studies on campus and another 15 taking part in the Elon Gap Semester Program, according to preliminary data that will be finalized in the coming weeks. It is one of the most ethnically diverse as well. Seventeen percent of the class self-identified as a racial minority, and 7 percent of the class come to campus with international backgrounds.
The class is geographically diverse, too. Seventeen percent of new students are from North Carolina, followed closely by Massachusetts (12 percent), New Jersey (9 percent), and Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York at 7 percent each.
Admissions administrators also point to expanded recruitment efforts on the West Coast. Applications from California increased 25 percent this year and the university expects to welcome three dozen new students from the Golden State with its new class.
Al Ciuffetelli, of New Castle, Del., helped his daughter, Emily, move into Building 5 of the Global Neighborhood. He also commented on the ease with which the family was able to unload its vehicle and get settled into the residence hall.
“Everything here is well thought-out and orderly,” Ciuffetelli said. “You can’t swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting someone who can answer your questions. And I didn’t have to carry a thing! As a parent of an only child, I leave here feeling very confident that my daughter is in good hands.”
Dozens of returning Elon University students, as well as several faculty and staff members, served as volunteers for move-in day to help families lift, pull, lug and carry everything from luggage trunks to entertainment systems.
“During my freshman year it was exciting that people were able to help me, and we got done really fast,” said junior psychology major Ashley Brown of Upper Marlboro, Md., who assisted several families in just the first half hour of move-in. “I wanted to be able to help freshman this year, and the parents are really grateful that we’re here to help, especially with the girls. Girls tend to bring a lot of stuff!”
Andrew Jacobson and Brad Clement have been friends for years and applied early decision to the university. The natives of Sudbury, Mass., quickly rearranged furniture in their Global Neighborhood room to maximize the amount of space available for two televisions and were drenched in sweat by 9 a.m. as they brought their possessions in from outside.
For both men, Elon just “felt right” and visits to campus reinforced their desire to study business in North Carolina.
Jacobson even cited the admissions video he viewed on a campus visit as one influence on his decision. “That video was Spielberg compared to everything else I saw (on college visits),” he said. “Everything else looked like it was shot with cell phone cameras.”
For Lyndsay Clark of Parsippany, N.J., moving into Virginia hall on Friday was only the first step on her journey to medical school. At least that’s the plan for now. Clark said she plans to declare a major in public health studies, which will offer a variety of options should her interest changes.
Why Elon? Her answer was repeated by others across campus throughout the morning. “It was really pretty!” she said. “And I like how everybody is really friendly.”