As we plan for the upcoming 2016-17 academic year, we find ourselves in that exciting time of welcoming our new students into the fold. They will not start classes until late August, but right now it is time for them to SOAR!
Summer Orientation And Registration brings students to campus to meet advisors, pick their classes, and tend to all of the student life necessities associated with starting college at McMurry. No matter how many times our faculty have been part of SOARs, there is always something special about getting to know our bright, excited incoming freshmen. And it seems like there is always some new program available for our students. This year is no different, with new initiatives aimed at helping our freshmen not only survive, but thrive! And McMurry will be adding a faculty member to strengthen the BIMS program – Dr. Malaney Lopez-O’Connell, graduate of UTMB and biotechnology guru. Can’t wait to see what is in store for her!
McMurry’s BIMS program is one of the campus leaders, a large program with students who rank among the brightest and most driven on campus. That should not surprise anyone, as our students often want to be forensic scientists, doctors, dentists, and medical researchers.
Three SOARs are planned at this time: June 10-11, June 24-25, and July 29-30. There is still time for you to come join us! Call 325-793-4700 and see how you can claim your seat in the Class of 2020!
Yesterday (Friday the 24th) concluded our third Summer Orientation And Registration (SOAR) session. We had another hundred or so students and their families on campus to learn more about how McMurry works and to set their course schedules for the fall. I got to peak in on registration numbers along the way and noted that we continued to add more students into our first BIMS courses. We are finding about one in ten incoming McMurry freshmen has an interest in BIMS. That makes BIMS one of the most popular and fastest growing majors here.
Some interesting observations so far:
- The number of students in freshman-level science courses overall is high. We have 198 registered for first year and general education Biology/BIMS courses, 51 in CS, 88 in Chemistry, 28 in Geosciences, 254 in Math and 51 in Physics. As these are mostly four-hour lab courses, this represents a significant chunk of the tuition dollars coming from science sources.
- There appear to be about three new BIMS majors for every Biology major, based on the numbers of freshmen in freshman-level courses for these majors. BIMS courses are running around 90% freshmen, while the other biology courses for majors are running about 50% freshmen.
- Enrollment in BIMS 1300 is 50% higher than it was last year. Again, it looks like the Biomedical Science major is catching on!
- There are 31 enrolled in the PREP 1105 seminar. This Pre-Professional preparation seminar helps those early-decision health professions students to get themselves ready for application and entry into professional schools like dentistry, physical therapy, medicine, and pharmacy.
So, it has been a successful summer for enrolling BIMS majors and science students overall. There is still time and space for others to join us, and we expect that our numbers will grow before the first greetings are spoken by Dr. Benoit on August 24th. We are pleased with what we’ve seen so far!
Today we saw completion of our second Summer Orientation And Registration (SOAR) session. During these two-day events, incoming McMurry students learn all about college life at McMurry and get their schedules set for the fall semester.
So where do we stand, now that we are half way through the registration process (there is another SOAR and a good number of students always register at the beginning of school)? We have 27 students in the first BIMS course – BIMS 1300 Introduction to Scientific Research. This course introduces students to looking at science and studying life science in a new and engaging way. If we keep on the current track, we should see at least a 50% increase in BIMS majors this year, proof that our approach is gaining momentum and students are “buying in” to our new way of teaching.
How are the other freshman-year Biology courses doing? There are 18 signed up for the BIOL 1301 Unicellular Organisms class, which is offered both fall and spring. BIMS majors must take this with the BIMS 1101 Unicellular Lab, which is only offered in the spring, so it is a good bet that many of these are Biology majors instead of BIMS majors. Botany (the first course for BS in Biology majors) has 24 enrolled, while the Human Anatomy & Physiology I course sits at 60 right now. This course is needed for Nursing, Exercise Science, and Life Sciences majors. These are exciting times for our BIMS/Biology faculty!
What does this tell us? At this point, it appears 1 in every 4-5 freshman students enrolling at McMurry this fall has an interest in a Biology Department program. With so many of the predicted “hot jobs” of the future centered in healthcare, biotech/forensics, the environment, and medical research, it is not surprising that so many of our students gravitate toward them. BIMS was a program whose time had come, and our offering this exciting program says we’re preparing students for prosperous and successful futures!