EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – It’s a big day at the campus of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. More than a thousand first-year students arrive on Wednesday and Thursday, and returning students make their way back to campus living on Friday.

“Our first-year students live in three communities,” said SIUE Director of Housing Mallory Sidarous. “That’s Bluff, Prairie, and Woodland Hall. They are the same as far as layout and structure, so that makes it easy for students. And we do have general assignment or focused-interest communities, so they could be living with folks in the same major as them or general assignment.”

Bluff Hall was a beehive of activity Wednesday afternoon as first-year students and families tried to get settled in for all that awaits when classes begin Monday.

“Went to the check in and saw my friend from school; that was exciting,” said Erin Mansfield, a freshman nursing student. “We got in here and had two girls help us out; put all our stuff in. Got it all done in an hour, and I’m super excited. So, it was super helpful. Got all my stuff done in like an hour. My room looks great, and I’m so excited.”

Approximately 2,700 students will live on campus in dorms, as well as Evergreen Hall and Cougar Village Apartments, formerly known as Tower Lake.

Thus begins a new school year, along with experiences, friendships, and opportunities ahead.

“You know, it’s a big day,” Sidarous said. “But it also should be a lot of fun. It’s the first step in this journey towards graduation. We’re thrilled to have these students be a part of that. It’s a time to connect.

“Go to things and be engaged, and go to a meal and say hi, and be engaged, and take that step that might be a little uncomfortable. Because, typically, that brings fruit when they do that.”