Welcome to Move-In Day, Class of 2018

New students arrive on campus to greet their future while parents say goodbye.

Photos by Scott Cook. Video by Jennifer DeWitt.

Wednesday, August 20, was Move-In Day at Rollins College—that annual rite of passage for first-year students and the special turning-point moment parents work toward for 18 years, then dread when it hits.

The Class of 2018 arrived this week, all 545 of them, as well as 65 transfer students, representing 35 states, 38 countries, and countless hopes and dreams. As families rolled into campus from all around the nation, car doors slammed and trunks popped open to reveal a semester’s worth of clothing, electronic gadgets, and personal belongings. There were laughs, tears and plenty of perspiration, as students, families, and Rollins volunteers lugged bags and boxes into residence halls such as McKean, Ward, Strong, and Rex Beach.

While the heat index promised to soar above 100 degrees, Rollins volunteers fanned out, lending a hand, offering water, and answering questions for the newcomers during a morning that buzzed with activity. Luggage wheels rattled on stairs. Hammers banged on metal bed frames. Fridges were set into place. Furniture was arranged, then rearranged.

“Mission accomplished!” retired Army master sergeant Joe Flores says.

He was listening to his twins—Stone Flores ’18 and Jasmine Flores ’18—fill him in on their progress of settling into their new rooms. Flores and his former wife, Bethany Bower, who is assistant director of corporate and foundation relations at Rollins, were helping their twins move—an event that signaled one phase of family life ending and another beginning.

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook) In that respect, the day was mission accomplished for many families—their children were all taking a big step into the future. However, there were still many small operations to carry out on Wednesday. What drawer gets what clothing? Should the cabinets and chairs face this way or that? John and Mary Beth Campbell set a chair near the door because they know their daughter, Reagan Campbell ’18, is a socializer and won’t be able to stop herself from chatting with other students when they walk down the hall.

Niki Korman ’18, who arrived from Philadelphia with her parents, mentioned that she was a little nervous because she had not met her new roommate yet. As she and mom Korin put items away, her roommate, Mikhaila Crag-Chaderton ’18 and her parents, Addison and Kim, entered. There were gentle introductions, and right away, they all bonded over the ever-shrinking space as the essentials of two lives were squeezed in among boxes, clothes, blankets, pillows, and about a half-dozen people trying to not bump into each other.

While setting up their children for successful futures, some parents were reminded of their own lives at age 18. Time seemed to be flowing several directions at once for many. “I remember growing up around here and being around Rex Beach Hall,” Flores recalls. “And now my son is staying there. For me, it’s kind of weird, a flashback, kind of trippy. It’s a big circle.”

Bower, the twins’ mom, was happy to know her kids won’t be far away from her Rollins office, but even so, everybody seemed, understandably, a bit nervous. Stone, who will study music, said he was still processing the day. “I don’t know. It’s a lot right now. I’m very excited, though.”

His sister, Jasmine, who is less certain of what she wants to study, says, “Rollins is a good place to figure out what I want to do.” She’s glad her brother is nearby. “We’ll be across campus, so we’ll still be able to talk to each other, bicker, annoy him.”

Crag-Chaderton wasn’t quite sure what to feel about daughter Mikhaila’s milestone. “I’m feeding off of her. If she’s happy, then I’m OK. If she’s sad and she cries, then you’ll see, I’ll cry.”

Standing out in the parking lot, several mothers talked about dropping off a child at college. Jymmie Jacobson described her emotional state after she left son Abraham. “Sweaty and tired. … It’s kind of bittersweet. Yes, bittersweet.”

Wendy Castell joked that she was looking forward to a quieter household back in Charlotte after bringing daughter Rachel Castel ’18 to Rollins. “She’s really a pain in the butt,” Castell says. Then, softly, “No, it will be hard to leave her.”