They're here! Elon University's Class of 2020 comes to campus
The year's class of first-year students is the largest and most diverse in Elon's history.
Elon University welcomed its newest, largest and most diverse class to campus on a sunny Friday morning, with hundreds of students, faculty and staff swarming around the steady stream of cars arriving to drop off members of the Class of 2020.
Teams of volunteers transported totes, suitcases, boxes and bedding to help the 1,548 new Elon students settle in to their new homes. They were at the ready to help first-year students and their families quickly unload cars and SUVs and to offer a warm welcome to the Elon community.
Among the arrivals was Colby Wilson '20 from Vail, Colo., who was moving into her room in the Global Neighborhood as part of a first wave of new students. She discovered Elon during her college search while looking for an environment that mirrored what she had in high school — one with a sense of community, dedicated faculty and close relationships between students and teachers. "I was looking for that in college, too," Wilson said. "I knew I didn't want something big and overwhelming."
Elon retains that sense of community and intimacy even while introducing its largest first-year class yet. The Class of 2020 was selected from more than 10,000 applicants, with these new students arriving from 41 states. Among these new students, 20 percent have ethnically diverse backgrounds and 9 percent have international backgrounds. The class is made up of 60 percent women, and the top-represented states are North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Jack Hudson '20 from Rye, N.Y., said Elon was "an obvious choice," based in large part on its reputation for engaged and accessible faculty members. Hudson plans to study finance in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, and said he could feel Elon was different when he visited.
"When I came here, there was a different vibe," Hudson said. He's talked to current Elon students, and said he learned that a large part of that is the faculty. "They know you by name. They help you out."
President Leo M. Lambert made his way around campus greeting new students and parents as they arrived, with Claudia Rogers P'20 snapping a photo of Lambert as he spoke to her daughter, Isabelle, in the parking lot of the Global Neighborhood.
"I feel very welcomed, and this is such a good environment," Isabelle Rogers '20 said. The New York City native is looking forward to "interesting classes and meeting new people" as she begins her journey at Elon.
It's no easy task getting more than 1,500 new residents settled into neighborhoods around campus within a span of about four hours. For a second year, Elon relied on a staggered move-in schedule based upon which floor a student was assigned to. It's a strategy that helped break up potential congestion and help the process run smoothly and quickly. Those living on the first floor moved in at 8 a.m., followed by second-floor residents at 9:30 a.m. and those on the third and fourth floors at 10:30 a.m.
One home to first-year students, Sloan residence hall in Elon's Historic Neighborhood, was showing off the upgrades from a summer renovation that is part of a multi-year plan to renovate and refurbish residential facilities at the center of campus, called the Historic Neighborhood. Sloan residents were greeted by new windows, bathrooms, paint, carpet and air-handling systems.
Elsewhere in the Historic Neighborhood, David Norfleet was sitting outside Smith residence hall Friday morning and said he's been through this process before when his older children moved into other colleges and universities. Now his son David is starting at Elon, and Norfleet said it was "unbelievable" how smoothly the move-in went."
"They've saved my already weak back," Norfleet said with a laugh.
The Norfleets, from Bedford, N.H., visited several campuses in North Carolina as part of the search, but the elder Norfleet said the visit to Elon cemented his son's choice. "We didn't have to go anywhere else," Norfleet said. Seeing that instant connection to Elon "was amazing. That's what you look for — that connection."
Among the top majors for incoming students are biology, finance, management, psychology and journalism. New student Jonathan Granville from Garden City, N.Y., looked at Elon previously, but enrolled at a university in Pennsylvania. But a return visit to Elon convinced Granville this was the place for him, and he arrives as a sophomore transfer student to study communications, saying "the Communications School expansion really stood out to me."
Next up — New Student Convocation, to begin Under the Oaks in front of West residence hall at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27.
Brooke Melendi of Tampa, Fla., and her husband are both graduates of the University of Florida, but she said they knew that school wasn't the right fit for their daughter, Crosby. "It just didn't feel like her to us," she said as she helped her daughter get settled into her room in the Global Neighborhood. "This just feels like her."
Crosby Melendi '20 said her selection for the Communications Fellows program was a turning point in her school search. Having a study abroad experience as an integral part of an Elon education is key, she said.
"Elon is everything I was looking for in a school," she said.