The start of freshman orientation drew more than 200 prospective students and their relatives to Johnson C. Smith University Thursday.

JCSU spokesman Benny Smith said about half the students who came already have committed to the school.

Because of the bad economy and at the request of parents, Smith said, orientation this year was shortened from a week to three days. A second session for a different set of students will be held July 16-18.

In another shift this year, the school has made some parts of the orientation process specific to each student’s interests or perspective major.

“Usually, we just had all the students together and we put them in groups and everybody was kind of in the same thing,” Smith said. “Now, for the first time this year, if I’m interested in communications, I’ll be talking to a communications professor.”

On Thursday, students and their families gathered in the university chapel to discussed topics such as academic expectations, parent/student involvement and financial arrangements. They also were scheduled to meet with JCSU President Ronald Carter.

Founded in 1867, JCSU offers 26 majors to approximately 1,400 students. And for the first time, the school soon will begin offering adult and continuing education classes.

At the start of each school year, JCSU students are provided a laptop to access the Internet and a campus-wide network.

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