Mercer University will welcome the Class of 2026 to the Macon campus during two move-in days, Aug. 18-19. Here are four things to know about this special time we call Opening Days and Bear Beginnings.

1. We will help new students move in

A young man wearing an orange shirt carries a box over his head
A Mercer Movers volunteer helps students move in to their residence halls during the 2021 Opening Days. Photo by Christopher Ian Smith

With over 200 volunteers helping with move-in, new students and parents can leave the heavy lifting to us.

“You really get to see how the community comes together during Opening Days because we have this great program called Mercer Movers, where Mercerians volunteer to sign up and help,” said Dana Horsford, coordinator of new student programs. “Our students and parents stay in the cars, and we have our Mercer Movers volunteers come and help and unload everything and bring it to their door.”

To help this process run smoothly, we ask that all boxes and items are labeled boldly using a Sharpie or permanent marker with the student’s last name, building and room number.

After students are settled, they can head to Cruz Plaza from 4-4:30 p.m. for an ice cream sendoff where they can say goodbye to their families.

2. Now is a great time to ask questions

Students gather on Cruz Plaza during the 2021 Opening Days. Photo by Christopher Ian Smith

Before arriving on campus, each student is assigned to a peer adviser and Orientation Group, or O-Group, which consists of 15-20 other first-year students.

Peer advisers are volunteer student leaders who help our new students transition to Mercer. They know what these students are going through because they’ve done it before.

“We really want students to see their O-Group as their little family and utilize their peer adviser as a big brother or big sister and make sure they’re asking questions if they come up because this is going to be the prime time for that,” Horsford said.

Students will attend a variety of sessions with their O-Group, and while there will be a lot of time for bonding, they’ll also learn about important topics, such as the honor code, health and safety, and technology.

Before arriving on campus, peer advisers will add students to their O-Group on GroupMe, so they should go ahead and download the mobile app.

3. Students have time to handle last-minute tasks

Students walk across campus during the 2021 Opening Days. Photo by Christopher Ian Smith

We want to make sure our new students are ready for classes to start on Aug. 23, so we’ve built time into the schedule for them to handle any last-minute tasks. This includes talking to an adviser, taking a placement exam and finding buildings on campus.

If a student needs to do other things, like pick up a parking decal or talk to someone in financial aid, now is a great time to do that. If students are unsure how to do something, they can always ask their peer adviser.

“This is going to be a good time to get that stuff done,” Horsford said.

4. We encourage students to get involved

Students take a selfie during the 2021 first-year lawn party. Photo by Christopher Ian Smith

We have so many fun activities planned during Bear Beginnings that are aimed at making sure our students’ first college experience is memorable. We find that those who actively participate get the most out of the experience.

“Take that cool cap off and just dive on in and get involved,” Horsford said. “We know it’s a little nerve wracking to come to college, but honestly if you just buy into it for the weekend, you will have the best experience ever.”

New students will get to participate in our annual first-year lawn party, featuring a DJ on Cruz Plaza. We also have some new activities this year, including a campfire social with karaoke and s’mores, and an opening picnic, where students can learn more about Greek life.

“We just want everyone to come and bring their great attitudes and just be ready to have some fun and to become the Bear,” Horsford said.


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Jennifer Falk is director of digital communications at Mercer. She edits and writes feature stories for The Den and examines web data and analytics to drive content decisions. She also creates and supervises the creation of content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters.