New Student Orientation takes show on the road with NSO On the Go

When you serve a diverse student population, sometimes you have to try new a new approach. In an area where 93.3 percent of students who attend Shelby County Schools are on free or reduced lunch, things others take for granted like getting in a car and driving to Southwest, may not be an option.

Southwest launched NSO On the Go this past spring to get the word out to prospective students who may not know about all that Southwest has to offer and to help streamline the application process for those wanting to enroll.  NSO On the Go is a new program that takes new student orientation to where the students are—the area high schools.

Incoming Southwest students Trazette McAdams and Isis Small had their financial aid questions answered and class schedules finalized during NSO to Go at Hamilton High School.

Incoming Southwest students Trazette McAdams and Isis Small had their financial aid questions answered and class schedules finalized during NSO On the Go at Hamilton High School.

NSO recently brought its admissions team, as well as a group of current students who serve as ambassadors, to five Memphis area high schools—Fairley, Kirby, Hamilton, Manassas, and Melrose—to meet students who have applied to Southwest and help them complete the admissions process.

“In some of our high schools, some of our students were having obstacles coming to Southwest,” Associate Director of K-12 Community Partnerships Shawn Boyd said. “So we decided to eliminate those obstacles and make their transition to Southwest convenient and seamless. It’s all about access and meeting our students where they are.”

NSO On the Go features a group of current students and representatives from admissions, financial aid, and student development, who share the ins and outs of enrolling and excelling at Southwest. Students also get one-on-one time with an advisor in smaller group settings instead of having to come to campus for the main student orientation day where there is typically about 250 students. “We are bringing the services out to them,” Boyd said. “We help them complete their applications so that by the end of the day, they can sit with an advisor and are registered and ready to go for the fall. They have a class schedule in hand, which is great.”

Dr. Shanita Brown, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, said NSO On the Go is critical as the application and registration process can be daunting to high school graduates. She says some students who want to enroll never make it to new student orientation on campus. “Some of them are more worried about where their next meal will come from, or they don’t have that support system at home because they may be the first one in their family to attend college,” Brown said. “We are trying to get these things taken care of so they can have access to admissions, financial aid, and be registered before they leave the session. And because we are doing it in smaller groups, it allows them more contact with our administrators.”

Melrose Principal Mark Neal said a lot of students at his school expressed an interest in Southwest. He added that having Southwest on site to help with pre-registration increases the odds that students will follow through and enroll. “It’s a tremendous help for the students, the school, and the families,” Neal said. “We want to make sure that we increase our student’s post secondary options and expose our students to this opportunity.”

Melrose High School senior Markavious Key said NSO On the Go was definitely a big help. “They helped me fill out all of my forms,” Key said. “I didn’t know everything you had to do to apply.”

Trazette McAdams, a senior at Hamilton High School who is interested in studying to be a nurse practitioner, said the advisors helped register her and sign her up for classes. “It helped a lot instead of me having to do the extra work,” McAdams said.

Brown said they are excited about NSO On the Go and have already been contacted by more high schools about bringing the program to their campuses. “We’re looking to add even more schools next year,” she said. “We believe this is just the beginning of something great.”


Associate Director of K-12 Community Partnerships Shawn Boyd helps a graduating senior at Melrose High School prepare to register for classes during NSO on the Go.

Associate Director of K-12 Community Partnerships Shawn Boyd helps a graduating senior at Melrose High School prepare to register for classes during NSO on the Go.

Ambassadors fire up incoming students with a musical performance at Hamilton High School in South Memphis.

Ambassadors fire up incoming students with a musical performance at Hamilton High School in South Memphis.