ORONO, Maine — JJ Bond, 20, of Minford, Ohio, knows what it’s like to stand between her parents at first-year orientation, nervous but excited about attending college far from home.
It’s one of the reasons the third-year history major, whose hometown is 100 miles east of Cincinnati, decided to act as a student ambassador to those who will enter the Class of 2014 at the University of Maine in August.
Orientation for first-year students and their families began Friday and continued through Sunday. Another session will be held June 26-28, and some students will undergo orientation on Aug. 27 when first-year students are to move into their assigned dorms.
“I went through this process and I liked the idea of helping other students with it,” Bond said Saturday as she stood inside the Collins Center for the Arts, where orientation sessions were held. “I guess the one thing I wasn’t told at orientation was how easy it would be to meet people here.
“I just tell new students, ‘You could have an experience here,’” Bond continued. “College is what you make it.”
There were 1,803 first-year students last fall, a drop from the total of 2,094 in fall 2008, according to a story published previously in the Bangor Daily News. UMaine anticipates there will be about 30 more first-year students this fall than last year, Joe Carr, spokesman for the university, said earlier this month.
Helen Channell, 18, of Sedgwick graduated earlier this month from George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill. She attended Saturday’s orientation session with her maternal grandmother, Jean Ford, 69, of Blue Hill.
Channell said she was somewhat familiar with the Orono campus, having attended events previously at UMaine.
“I’ve registered for classes and I got my preliminary schedule,” she said, “so my only real questions today are, ‘Where do I have be when?” and ‘What do I have to do now?’”
Nearly every aspect of university life was represented inside the Collins Center. Small groups were led on tours of the campus at 30-minute intervals. Saturday’s activities were to end with a cookout and bonfire.
“It’s big,” Jennie Collins, 18, of Boston said after a Saturday afternoon tour. “It’s big but there’s a lot to do. I can see myself keeping busy.”
Collins, who plans to major in journalism, graduated from Lexington [Mass.] High School earlier this month.
“This was a little closer than North Carolina [where she also applied],” her father, Christopher Collins of Boston, said of the distance from the Hub to Orono. “I can handle her being in Maine.”
Newly minted high school graduates weren’t the only ones taking part in orientation. Transfer students also participated.
Rob Mager, 19, of Somerset, N.J., spent his freshman year at Drexel University, located in downtown Philadelphia. The art history major wanted a less urban setting. After a tour of the campus with his parents, Monica and Tom Mager of Somerset, N.J., he said he liked the atmosphere on campus.
“This reminds me of home, but I get to get away from home,” he said.