AVON PARK - South Florida State College welcomed many of its students Friday during the final GPS (Guide to Personal Success) New Student Orientation before the start of the fall semester on Monday.
The half-day of orientation activities started at 9 a.m. in the University Center Auditorium with a welcome from the college's new president, Thomas Leitzel.
"Neat things are going to happen here." Leitzel said, noting that he has been on the job for six weeks.
"Welcome to South Florida State College, it's exciting because Monday begins the academic semester and I'm looking forward to exploring and experiencing that with you."
He advised the students to pay attention in class, study with intensity, get enough sleep and to eat well.
Business instructor Adam Martin served as master of ceremonies for a "Family Feud" type game between a team of guys and a team of gals.
The winners will get some "free stuff," he said.
The mantra over the next year will be this, and repeat after me, "If it's free, it's for me," Martin said, "Because over the course of your college career money is going to be very important to you. So you will be living off of mac and cheese, Ramen noodles, hot pockets and all of these great things for your diet and health."
A bit later the students toured the campus in groups. Among the other orientation activities, a program and services fair with information about the college's core programs and services was held in the Building B Rotunda.
SFSC Director Career Development Center Colleen Rafatti said the morning session was the largest single orientation session the college has ever offered with 144 new students, 30 student athletes and 14 parents/guests.
GPS (Guide to Personal Success) is a new college-wide quality initiative to prepare students for the demands of college, she said.
At a standard GPS orientation students go to workshops that: welcome them to the college, describe student life and student clubs/activities, make them aware of expectations for classroom participation and performance and provide hands-on computer training on the college's web portal (Panther Central), Rafatti said.
Along with the orientation activities, many students came to the campus on Friday to get their textbooks.
Freshman Lorraine Wilson, who will be studying science, stopped at The Panther Shop Bookstore.
The Frostproof High School graduate recently moved to Sebring.
"I am excited because I graduated early," in three years, she said.
Wilson said she attended the Aug. 11 New Student Orientation, which was very helpful because she had only seen a small part of the campus.
She got all her textbooks except for one class, algebra I, because she is on a waiting list, Wilson said. But, it's "OK" because she is first on the list.
Alicia Jetton, of Sebring, learned she could save money by renting textbooks. She saved about $40 on two textbooks.
After the fall semester, in which she is takin three classes and two labs, she plans on transferring to the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at Polk State College in Lakeland.
SFSC Community Relations Director Deborah Bell Latter said the college anticipates that enrollment will be "flat," similar to last year's for all programs, which was 5,767 in 2012-13.
But, there is an exception to the expected flat enrollment.
"We're excited about the enrollment growth in our Bachelor in Applied Sciences and Technologies in Supervision and Management (BAS-SM) degree program," she said. It has an enrollment of 80 students this year, which is double the enrollment of last fall.
"We look forward to introducing two new baccalaureate degree programs next fall - Nursing and Elementary Education - which should result in enrollment growth during the current year as students finish course work so that they can transition into these new baccalaureate programs," she added.