Summer break is ending and things are getting busy at Bay area college campuses once again.
3,500 new students - a mix of freshmen, transfer and international students - moved into residence halls on the University of South Florida's Tampa campus Thursday.
While hot temperatures and heavy traffic greeted the newest Bulls and their families, they were also assisted by a few hundred current student volunteers and USF Bulls football players in unloading and moving their belongings.
Assistant Vice President of Housing and Residential Education Ana Hernandez says having a friendly face ready to greet a new student is key to starting the school year off right.
"On a very hot day, it's great to have somebody that's going to be helping with the heavy lifting and so we want to create an environment where students feel welcomed and supported and that will be what their experience at USF is," Hernandez said.
After checking in at the Marshall Student Center, the newest Bulls attended an afternoon pep rally featuring USF Athletic Director Mark Harlan, cheerleaders and mascot Rocky D. Bull, and a balloon drop.
USF System President Judy Genshaft and other school officials encouraged the students to find something that interests them on campus right away.
"We're all about students getting involved in student groups of whatever their choice is and to learn a lot, but to have a great experience at the University of South Florida," Genshaft said.
"We want students to find a place on campus right away so that they feel connected and they feel part of our community and then that helps them connect with resources," Hernandez said.
"Week of Welcome" events continue at USF throughout the next seven days, including the taking of the Class of 2019 photo Friday, a service day and Fan Fest Saturday, and the Round-Up comedy show featuring Nicole Buyer (MTV's “Girl Code”) and Jay Pharoah (“Saturday Night Live”) August 28th.
Freshmen have already moved into residence halls at Eckerd College, and Thursday also marked move-in day for new students at St. Leo University. Students at the University of Tampa start checking in next week.