This is a great question. As we know, beginning college is an exciting adventure. However, our new Bears will have questions like, “How will I meet new people?” or “How will I learn more about campus?” and these questions can provoke a lot of anxiety. Missouri State University’s class of 2022 will have these same feelings when they arrive on campus in August. How can we help them through this transition? Simple—we provide them an opportunity to get to know Missouri State before they begin classes.
This opportunity is the Ursa Experience, Missouri State’s extended orientation program. I love talking about the Ursa Experience. Launched in 2015, the Ursa Experience is an engagement camp designed to quickly involve new students in the University. Participants learn the inside scoop on Missouri State, including MSU traditions, the best ways to engage with the MSU community, and what it means to be a Bear. Plus they have a lot of fun and meet other new students and upperclassmen. (Just a note: we call our facilitators (upperclassmen) Majors and we call our participants (the incoming freshmen) Minors).
How does Ursa work? If your student decides to attend Ursa and is going to live on campus, they will move into their residence hall (into the room they will be living in) on Monday, August 13th, 8am – 12noon. All students, residential and commuter, will check into Ursa starting at 12 noon and the kick-off starts at 1pm. Families are invited to the kick-off. At 2pm, families say “See ya later” to their student and Ursa is in full-swing. The Ursa majors and minors spend the rest of the day getting to know each other, taking part in lots of activities, learning about traditions and the public affairs mission and having a lot of fun. Residential students will stay in their room and commuter students will return to their personal residence for the night. Bright and early on Tuesday, August 14th, ALL Ursa majors and minors will board buses at 8am and hit the road for the Windemere Resort. They will spend the next 24 hours having a great time participating in lots of team-building activities, enjoying the great outdoors and learning about what it means to be a Bear! On Wednesday, August 15th, everyone boards the buses and we head back to Missouri State where we have lunch in one of our fabulous dining halls. We also have a Wednesday night event, hosted by the Student Activities Council, where your student will meet more upperclassmen and have a great time. Ursa is a lot of fun packed into three days!
Since 2015, 284 students and 40 upperclassmen have taken part in the Ursa Experience. Here’s what some had to say:
“The greatest part about Ursa is you see and connect with the next generation of student leaders at Missouri State at one place at the same time.”~Max Wagner, Ursa 2015 – 2017 Major
“Ever since we got back from Sky Ranch, I have not stopped telling my friends about the funny stories on the bus rides, teaching them the fight song, or why I know at least one person I pass every time I am walking on campus. Some of the main things I took away from the Ursa Experience were confidence in myself as I opened a new chapter in my life, and confidence in my ability to meet and talk to anyone I meet on campus.”~Riley Griesemer, Ursa 2015 Minor
“Incoming freshmen should go through the Ursa Experience so they can experience what it’s TRULY like to be a Bear with other incoming bears. They’ll gain a better understanding on the history, the traditions, and Missouri State’s public affairs mission. On top of that, they will create friendships that will likely last them throughout the school year, and possibly way longer, as well as gain connections with upperclassmen who are MORE than happy to help with any questions or advice that the incoming freshmen may seek. It’s a 10/10 recommendation from me!” ~Micaela Phillips, Ursa 2017 Minor
“In my experience, coming to college was very intimidating. I was coming from a very small school, so campus seemed huge and the crowds even bigger. If it wasn’t for my experience at Ursa enabling me to make some initial connections with fellow bears, I know that I would have felt like just a face in the crowd at welcome weekend events. Because of Ursa, I was able to walk around greeting people by name and people could call me out by name. For me, that made all the difference in the world. The connections and confidence you build at Ursa don’t stay there; they follow you back and have lasting impressions on you and your time at Missouri State. Ursa was the first step in going from just a face in the crowd to being an individual in the Missouri State Community.” ~Megan Berry, 2016 Ursa Minor
“I’m so glad I did URSA because coming to college I was nervous about meeting new people, but after going to URSA, you have friends in every corner of campus from Student Government to Greek Life to the Football team. You also get to learn about the school and different activities on campus! URSA will be one of the best decisions you make in your time at Missouri State.” ~Marshall McCarl, 2017 Ursa Minor
You can see from the comments that our former majors and minors highly recommend Ursa to our new students. The number of students attending in 2018 is 250! Registration for Ursa 2018 is open. Spaces will fill up quickly. Limited financial assistance is available (apply for financial assistance BEFORE registering for the Ursa Experience). Find out more here. Encourage your student to find out more about Ursa and make plans to attend. Learn more at www.missouristate.edu/ursa.
If you have any questions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (417) 836-3060.