JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Students attending Arkansas State University this year begin the academic season Monday. Sunday, the university faculty and staff held a First Year Convocation for incoming freshman with a goal of providing collegiate advice. The event, sponsored by ASU Academic Affairs, was held for the class of 2013. A number of different speakers with the university talked to students and their families about surviving and thriving in college.
"A lot of this is just plain old elbow grease because they all have the ability to do it and graduate or they wouldn't have been admitted. What we need to get them to do is be motivated," said Dr. Robert Potts, Chancellor of Arkansas State University Jonesboro.
Potts told Region 8 News Sunday he expects the university to have the largest student enrollment in the college's 100-year history. He said the college is down in the number of incoming freshman slightly, but a larger number of non-traditional students are seeking degrees.
"The important thing we try to remind them of is that you're here, first and foremost, for an education. If you want options after you get your bachelorette degree, you need do as best you can with your studies and you need to put the effort in," said Potts.
Potts said the university is expanding in a variety of ways. He said the support of Governor Mike Beebe, the Arkansas Legislature and private donations paves way for future success. Potts said new students will benefit through expanded programs, such as research and development.
"What we have really is the opportunity to move ahead because Arkansas is one of the few states that hasn't had drastic cutbacks in higher education. We just feel this is our time," said Potts. "We have all the new buildings coming online. We'll have a lot of dedications. This is a centennial year."
The university held several events for students over the weekend, and a number of events are scheduled for the first week of classes.
"Remember that academics come first and that's a good motto to have in your freshman year," said Potts. "They need to put the time in on their studies. They need to get to class on time. They need to do the intellectual things and then secondarily, have fun. I know that was a problem for me my first semester."
Saturday morning, local churches helped students and their families move into Kay's Hall, Arkansas Hall, University Hall and North Park Quads.
"We just came out from the church at Central Baptist. We're just trying to welcome the folks into the community. It's a good transitional time in people's lives and the community of Jonesboro wants to welcome them, serve them, make them feel welcome to Jonesboro," said Dan Reeves.
Reeves said he remembered the first day of college all too well.
"If you can remember back, those who have been in college, that transition, that first day you're dropped off. It's just, you know, all kinds of emotions and thoughts and fears and those kinds of things. We want them to know that there are friends here. There are people they can count on if they need anything and that there's a place to plug in when they get here," said Reeves.
Region 8 News interviewed several incoming freshman over the weekend. While Tyiesha Malone was moving into her 10th floor dorm room, she explained why she made the choice to attend Arkansas State University.
"It's just big. It's loveable. A lot of people are real sociable," said Malone, a Risen native.
The move was difficult for her and her family.
"She's never really been away from home, but I know she's going to do good because she mostly stays focused and stuff. She has done pretty well so far in school," said Purnella Brandon. "She seems to have her mind on straight for as doing things, so I think she's going to do good because she's adventurous. She likes to learn new things."
Malone said she wants to become a doctor upon graduation.
"I want to help people. I think it's cool how a child can be developed inside of a person," said Malone.
Malone considers herself a typical college student, as do Shaniqua Dean and her cousin, Nikenway Childress.
"I just wanted to get away. I've been in Newport my whole life. I want a new opportunity," said Dean, who wants to graduate with a degree in radiological science.
"I'm worried about going to sleep in class because I don't like math and I have to take it," said Childress.
Childress said she made the move from Illinois because she has family in Arkansas. She wants to graduate with a degree in physical therapy.
"It's a field that I enjoy. If you don't go into something that you enjoy, then you won't do well in it," said Childress. "I'm real close to the family. If I had went somewhere else, it would have been kind of hard to make it because it's hard to be anywhere without family."
Potts said the keys to graduating college are self-discipline, proper motivation and focus.
"Getting indoctrinated in the way to study in college is a tough thing because the demands are so much more difficult than high school in many ways," said Potts. "You have to discipline yourself and that self discipline is an important part in becoming a successful college student."