MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Thousands of new and returning WVU students will descend on Morgantown ahead of Wednesday’s start to the semester, but perhaps the largest chunk of that group will arrive Saturday.

“One thing I always ask families to be is really patient,” Chris MacDonald, Executive Director for Housing and Residence Life said ahead of Move-in day. “Everybody is going to be in a line [Saturday]. One time or another, there will be a line coming into town, there will be a line getting to your building.”

With the arrival of West Virginia University’s Class of 2021, the Mountain State welcomes in another part of the university’s signature demographic: students from outside West Virginia.

“I think they just need to temper their excitement to be mindful of the day,” MacDonald said. “Take every day one day at a time. Don’t plan too far ahead. Don’t start thinking about your senior year the second month of your first year. Think about the experiences that you want to have your first year and focus on that.”

Chris MacDonald, WVU’s Executive Director for Housing and Residence Life

MacDonald said college is an odd time — particularly for incoming freshmen. Still developing adults are, in many cases, meted their first real taste of responsibility, but underclassmen and upperclassmen alike are still provided with a strong support system from the University.

“Yes, your parents aren’t here,” he said. “Whether or not you get up and you do anything is really up to you. There still has to be some strong sense of personal drive and motivation and actually focus on the goal which brought you here.”

That support system, according to MacDonald, includes residence hall officials, student leaders, advisers and faculty, and older friends in their own programs and extracurricular clubs.

“Make sure you really exercise those resources,” he said. “If you don’t, it’s kind of like that old saying, ‘You don’t have to eat anything, but if you leave hungry it’s your own fault.'”

On a campus of more than 30,000, the vast majority of which are undergraduates, MacDonald said it can become very easy to feel lost among the mass of humanity. But McDonald said finding a niche — whether among friends or an extracurricular program — can make life at a large public university feel significantly smaller.

“Many work really hard to try and feel as small as possible,” he said. “They want the assets that come with being large and extremely deep, but they want to try and make it not feel so untouchable for the students. I think WVU does that, in some ways, better than I’ve seen.”

“I definitely think that is something we accomplish very well — that feeling of home, that feeling of access.”

WVU’s Fall 2017 semester will conclude 150 years of operation for West Virginia’s land-grant institution.

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