NORMAN — As the last strains of the University of Oklahoma fight song hung in the air at OU's Lloyd Noble Center Thursday, Adam Creed hugged his mother.
Then, he got on a bus sitting outside the center with a group of students just as new as him.
Creed, a new freshman at OU, has been on campus since Tuesday. His mother, Sally Creed, had come to Norman with him to help him move into his dorm room and settle in.
After OU's New Sooner Convocation ended Thursday afternoon, he said he was ready to be on campus.
“I feel like I've waited so long to get here,” he said.
Creed, of Richardson, Texas, plans to major in mechanical engineering. Sally Creed said she's pleased with her son's choice of university. A Louisiana State University graduate, she said she's been impressed with what she's seen from OU.
“I am so pleased with what this school has to offer,” she said.
Thursday marked the beginning of OU's Sooner Orientation Weekend, a four-day period designed to get incoming freshmen and other new students acquainted with the university before they begin classes Monday.
At more than 4,100 students, this year's freshman class is the largest in university history, topping last year's freshman class size of just more than 4,000. At the time, last year's freshman class represented the largest in state history at a four-year public university. OU's freshman classes have grown steadily in recent years, climbing from just 2,600 in 1995.
During his address to students, OU President David Boren reminded students they come to the university at a time of high unemployment, a shrinking middle class and growing concerns about the United States' declining economic stature on the world stage.
Nations such as China and India far outpace the United States in terms of economic growth, Boren said, and have much larger populations to fuel those economies. He encouraged students to prepare themselves to meet those challenges once they graduate.
“We must all look back over our history and remember that we have faced challenges before, and we have met those challenges because we have come together as one people and united to overcome them,” he said.
Boren told the new students he hopes to see them consider a range of possibilities before choosing one particular specialty. Instead of only taking required courses, he said, it's important to take courses from great teachers, no matter what they teach.
College represents a time of great personal growth, Boren said, and not all of that growth takes place in a classroom. College students also grow by forming friendships with students unlike themselves, trying new things and considering new ideas.
Above all, he said, college represents a major step in a young person's life as an adult.
“You're embarking on a moment of being able to chart your own course in a way that you've never been able to chart it before,” he said. “There's a tremendous sense of excitement about that.”