The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 23, 2012

The journey begins on Move-in day (photo gallery)

By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — When Laura Klock’s daughters put on their motorcycle racing helmets and get ready for a race — one that will test all the skill and knowledge they have about the sport — Klock has a ritual.

She kisses them on the helmet and tells them to remember all the things she’s taught them about racing. Do this, she tells them, and they’ll be OK.

On Thursday, Klock watched one of her daughters set out on a very different kind of race. But the sentiment was the same.

The family, which bonds together in its spare time by racing motorcycles at 195 mph on the Salt Flats near Salt Lake City (true story, check out kustombaggers.com,) came to Minnesota State University to drop off the youngest, Karle, who will begin her freshman year Monday.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” said Klock, sitting anxiously on the boulevard near the Preska Residence Community near a pile of Karle’s duffel bags and must-have electronic devices. “It was weird packing her stuff up last night.”

Karle and 2,700 other students lugged their stuff into residence halls Thursday in the annual rite of fall. But just as students arriving at college is a rite of fall, so is that scene that plays out thousands of times all over campus on move-in day: parents saying goodbye to their children and letting them go off to a world full of strangers and new experiences.

Karle is her baby. Klock said it’s been slightly different this time around. She’s a veteran to sending a daughter off to college. Her oldest, Erika, left three years ago. But she chose to attend college in their hometown of Mitchell, S.D. And when she left, Klock still had a daughter under her roof.

The feeling is different. She hopes the transition goes well for Karle.

“You just hope the reality check isn’t going to be harsh,” she said.

Wendy Tully of St. Paul brought her son down. He’s the first of the family to leave the house for college, and Tully said he’s been saying for months that he’s ready to go.

“I’m anxious,” Tully said, as dozens of purple-shirt-clad student helpers milled about waiting to help any families that needed help. “I’m excited for him, but I feel a little sad.”

Tully said she plans to use text messaging to keep in touch with her son. They’re also planning on using Skype, a computer program that uses web cams to allow people to not only talk to each other via computer, but see each other on the screen as well.

Jodi Greene of Rochester was on campus helping her daughter Alexa move in. Alexa came to MSU for the  civil engineering program; MSU is one of just two schools in the state that offers the particular program she wanted.

Mom, of course, is a little nervous.

“It’s kind of a mix of emotions,” she said, “and the fear of the unknown.”

Mike Solomonson was parked by a pile of stuff while his son, Andrew, and the rest of the family hauled a load up to Andrew’s room in the Preska Residence Community. He said the move-in set up was very well organized and went smoothly. He was impressed.

While waiting, he said the coming transition will be big one for the entire family. He anticipates communicating with his son via text message, and knows e-mail will be useless because his son doesn’t check his e-mail.

Solomonson said he’s just hoping for enough communication to be able to be reasonably sure Andrew is doing well.

“I’d mostly just like to hear how classes are going,” he said. “But I won’t be waiting by the phone or anything.”

Sending them off to college, after all, is just the beginning of the journey. Move-in day, then, can perhaps be thought of as the pistol shot at the beginning of a race.

Said Klock, “Gotta send ‘em down the track.”

More than 2,700 on-campus students moved into Minnesota State University residence halls Thursday. Classes start Monday.

Thousands of vehicles hit campus Thursday as students, parents and friends move student belongings into four campus residence hall communities, including the new Margaret R. Preska Residence Community. The university provided faculty-staff volunteers to assist with logistics, as well as traffic-control officers to direct the flow of cars.

University faculty and staff members are being asked to temporarily avoid main access streets such as Stadium Road and Val Imm Drive, and core-campus streets, and to park in remote lots on Thursday.

Eighty-five percent of new Minnesota State Mankato students choose to live on campus – a number that residence life officials say reflects the academic and social advantages of being an on-campus resident.

Thursday through Sunday’s Welcome Week for new students includes dozens of events: A family barbeque Thursday afternoon; a Friday “backyard bash” outside the Centennial Student Union featuring a four-story inflatable water slide; a Friday “ChoosaPalooza” where students navigate across campus in various offices for a chance to win prizes; use of the new indoor climbing wall in Myers Field House; a Saturday night hypnotist show and more.