The University of Southern Mississippi hosted its first of two Black & Gold Days on campus this year, inviting over 1,100 high school students from around the nation to tour the Southern Miss campus.
The event, held from 1 – 4 p.m. in the Thad Cochran Center, opened to students from Mississippi, Alabama and other Gulf Coast areas. Attendees were invited to tour the campus and learn about the university’s departments and programs.
“We have over 240 student organizations on campus, we have over 15,000 students, [and] it’s a smaller campus so, they really get to know the other people here,” said Gulf Coast Admissions Counselor Mollie McCaroll. “There really is something for everyone here at Southern Miss.”
Most activities took place in the Thad Cochran Center, with high school check-ins on the first floor, student activities and the meeting of student organizations on the second floor and the various school departments on the third floor.
In addition to touring the programs in the Thad, students were also able to take tours of residence halls and campus.
Jacob Blades, whose daughter Shelby Blades is thinking about attending USM, took the drive from Ocean Springs, Miss. to visit the Hattiesburg campus.
“I think it’s a good choice because it’s a right-sized institution,” Blades said. “They seem to have everything she needs educationally.”
Recruiting is essential for every university, and Southern Miss Assistant Director of Admissions Recruitment Staff Lauri Benvenutti said USM is striving to create an environment that prospective students feel invited to.
“The objective is to show them Southern Miss — physically take them on a tour to campus, show them all we have to offer them academically and extracurricular [activities],” Benvenutti said. “Lots of students would have already come for a campus tour. Lots of students, this would have been their first time on campus.”
The USM campus enrolls around 15,000 students and the university has just enrolled its most academically-talented freshman class after incoming freshman achieved a 3.33 GPA in high school and recording a 22.94 average ACT score.
“The big kicker is to get them to campus,” Benvenutti said. “Once they get to campuxs they see the wonderful facilities they have, they
can interact with the current students and they get to interact with the professors and they see the sense of community that we have here. It feels special and it feels like home.”
The second Black & Gold Day will be held on campus Nov. 5.