Parents enjoy campus, community


Above, McKenzie Cutler '18 of East Amherst, N.Y., with her parents, Tim and Penny Cutler. Below, Jasiah Lewis '18 of Randolph, Mass.,and his mother, Dian McPerson, with Terrell Smith of Admissions.

On his way home from an orientation with his parents at MCLA last month, Jared Freeman '18 of Rotterdam, N.Y., could not stop talking about the two days the three of them spent on campus, as they got to know other students and parents at various workshops, receptions and additional activities.

Jared's parents were among the nearly 200 family members who joined their students at an orientation in June, in anticipation of the start of their college careers at MCLA in the fall.

"Jared, my husband and I walked out of there in awe," said Michele Freeman, Jared's mother. "His comment on his Twitter was, 'The two most awesome days I've had in a long time.' As a parent, I couldn't be more pleased."

The Freemans felt right at home.

"There wasn't one person on that campus that didn't say 'Hello,' 'Good morning,' or asked 'Do you need some help?' And, everything that we went to was informative and extremely beneficial," Michele Freeman said.

According to Celia Norcross, MCLA's director of student development, throughout the course of the orientation sessions, "Parents tend to comment a lot about the welcoming atmosphere and the support that the College offers not only them, but the students." 

The orientation also includes a series of skits put on by the student orientation leaders. The five skits address the First Days experience, clubs and involvement, time management, resources, and choices.

"Parents are always fond of the skits, which give the orientation leaders the opportunity to throw a lot of information out to both parents and students in a fun manner," said Devon O'Dowd '14, graduate orientation leader.

Because all of the orientation leaders come from different places, and have varied majors and interests, "They help to assure parents that their student will be able to find a place at MCLA," O'Dowd added.

"After attending orientation, parents are more comfortable about their son or daughter attending the College because they know people are here to help them throughout their four years on campus. They're glad they're leaving their children where they will be watched over and supported," Norcross said.

"We like MCLA because we feel it is safe," said Maria Lopes of Scituate, Mass., who recently was back at the College for an orientation with her younger son, Aaron Lopes '18. She said she enjoyed that experience as much as the orientation she attended with her first son, Alex Lopes '11 (pictured at left at his MCLA graduation with Aaron).

During his first semester at MCLA, Alex Lopes became involved with the North Adams community through his volunteer work at the local food pantry.

"He enjoyed the community service, and it made him feel good. It makes me look back and say, 'Wow,' Maria Lopes said. "It's the little things that the College and North Adams can provide. My heart was full within two months of him being there."

In addition to exploring the campus and learning more about its programs, parents and students had opportunities to visit downtown North Adams and the surrounding community.

"Parents were thrilled to stay at a hotel in downtown North Adams where they could have dinner outside on the patio and watch the bustling Main Street, and then walk around and experience DownStreet Art kick-off events and music," Norcross said.

"Parents were very happy," she continued. "As one parent said, 'After attending this orientation, I am not nervous about anything. MCLA is going to be a great experience for my daughter.'"

For more information about MCLA and its parent/student orientation programs, go to and studentdevelopment/orientation.