HELENA — At 8 a.m. Sunday, the parking lot at Carroll College’s Guadalupe Hall was already full of activity, as dozens of incoming freshmen arrived for “Move-In Day” at campus residence halls.
While some athletes and members of the Talking Saints forensics team were already on campus, Sunday was the day most students arrived.
“This is a tremendous day for us,” said Chato Hazelbaker, Carroll’s vice president of enrollment management and marketing. “The students come back – really it’s what we’re here for.”
A number of current Carroll students volunteered to help the newest Saints get settled.
“It’s awesome getting to know all the freshmen coming in,” said sophomore Payten Somes. “You get to move in with them and ask them questions: where they’re from, what they are wanting to study, all that kind of stuff.”
The extra help made quick work of even the biggest moving jobs.
“I always tell parents, ‘Our goal is that you touch nothing; we carry it all,” said Jessica Schmitz, a senior who will help lead orientation events as a “core leader.”
“It felt like it was 20 people,” said incoming freshman Taylor Gabocy. “I felt like I had so much stuff and it was gone in like two minutes.”
Gabocy comes from the San Diego area in southern California. She said she visited a number of schools that offered nursing programs, and Carroll stood out because of its community atmosphere.
“I feel like here, you get personalization and everyone knows you,” she said. “If you need something, they’re here, while in San Diego, you’re just a number. Here, you’re a person.”
Current students agree that sense of community sets Carroll apart.
“I actually attended a different college to begin with, and I left because I didn’t feel very welcome, didn’t feel part of it,” said Francie Tupper, a sophomore and Move-In Day volunteer. “Coming to Carroll, I absolutely fit right in, and part of it was just having so many good people to help me get used to the place and become part of the community.”
While administrators won’t have official enrollment numbers until after the school year begins, Hazelbaker said they’re expecting this to be their biggest freshman class of the last three years.
“We know for sure we’re moving in about 40 or 50 more people into the dorms than we did last year on this same day, so it’s a busy day all the way around,” he said.
Hazelbaker said Carroll has seen growth in its pre-professional programs, especially pre-law.
“It just feels like we have a lot of excitement and folks who want to come,” he said.
Orientation activities for new students will continue through Tuesday. The first classes will start on Wednesday.