Hopkins helps freshmen get an unload off their minds

Teams ease students', parents' move-in stress

September 04, 2005|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Quentin Jennings-White pulled up to Wolman Hall at the Johns Hopkins University yesterday at 8:51 a.m. in his black Lincoln Aviator, which was stuffed full of his daughter Paige's belongings. After driving nearly 530 miles from Detroit, spending almost $240 on gas, Jennings-White expected to spend the rest of the morning unloading boxes.

Eight minutes later, he pulled away from the dorm as several Hopkins students pushed Paige's belongings inside. "What a wonderful system," Jennings-White marveled, a disbelieving grin on his face. "I didn't have to do a thing."

Parents and freshmen throughout Maryland are finding moving in, once an awkward process of lugging computers and toiletries up crowded stairways while exchanging goodbye hugs, has evolved into an almost scientific routine at virtually every college.

The routine at Hopkins mirrors those at other schools, many of which begin classes this week.

When freshmen arrive on campus, they are almost immediately whisked away from their parents -- in part to ease separation anxiety -- and taken on a tour of campus and to get their ID badges. Parents then take their children's belongings to a dorm, where an army of upperclassmen and university employees puts the belongings in wheeled carts and delivers them to rooms. Parents can then attend lectures and question-and-answer sessions before saying goodbye to their children.

Efficient system

Yesterday, a long line of sport utility vehicles and four-door sedans at Greenway and Charles Street moved briskly. The average time to unload an SUV was less than 10 minutes. Smaller cars were emptied seemingly before the drivers brought the vehicles to a complete stop.

Karl and Lisa Meinert of Holmdel, N.J., brought a large trunk in the back seat of their SUV as well as a shell on top containing seven garbage bags full of belongings. "I thought they would groan when they saw [how much we had,] but they took care of it so efficiently," Lisa Meinert said after the car was unloaded in nine minutes.

Students also appreciated the fast service, especially being quickly shepherded away from their parents. Tampa, Fla., native Tyler McClintock spent two days in a car with his mother and father, and said he spent most of the time alternating between eagerness and anxiety.

"It comes in waves," said McClintock, who plans to be a doctor. "There are times I'm ready to be away from them, but there are times when I'm nervous. It will get better when I'm away from them."

Kai Selterman, from Westchester, N.Y., also said he was glad to be on his own, although he acknowledged that he was anxious about many aspects of college. Selterman, wearing a blue T-shirt adorned with several pictures of cartoon character Homer Simpson, shoved his hands deep in his pocket as he watched other students mill about.

"I'm nervous about meeting my roommate. I'm nervous about being in Baltimore. I'm nervous about classes," he said.

Safety concerns

Many parents also said they were worried about their children's security. Last year, a senior was killed in her off-campus apartment, and a junior was fatally stabbed in an off-campus fraternity house the year before.

Hopkins officials have since spent more than $2 million to upgrade security, including a camera system, more security guards and tighter entrance checks in dorms.

Record applications

Although the killings generated headlines across the nation, there was no decrease in applications to Hopkins, the 13th-best university in the country, according to the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings. A record 11,300 students applied to the university, and 3,900 were admitted.

Karl Meinert said he wasn't concerned about his daughter Elisabeth's ability to handle Hopkins rigorous academics but that he did worry about her safety. Her parents insisted that Elisabeth take a kickboxing course over the summer. "She's my girl, so of course we worry. We want her to be prepared," Meinert said.

Jennings-White said he would always worry about his daughter, but added: "It's a part of growing up. You have to let them go and trust them."

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