Adjusting to college life can be difficult, especially when you’re far from home. Officials at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) hope to ease that burden for their students with the new Student Services Host Family Program.
Through this friendship program, university officials hope to help students become acquainted with the community, support their experience at MSU-WP, and enjoy the wide array of opportunities available in the area by pairing them with host families who can provide a “home away from home” for those whose families are very far away, said Dean of Student Services Dr. Angela Totty.
“We are very excited to be able to once again find a way to better connect our students to members of the community,” she said. “Many in the community remember when there was a similar program for student athletes that had to be discontinued. This new initiative will be open to all students who would like to take advantage of connecting with members of the community while they are in West Plains attending college.”
The importance of host families
Host families can play an important role in helping students adjust to college and to the community by including them in family activities, providing a safe place to relax and enjoy a home-cooked meal, and offering them a place to stay when residence halls are closed, Totty said.
“Host families have the freedom to provide these opportunities to students, but they are not obligated to do so,” she said. “Host families are not financially responsible for the students and are not expected to provide support beyond the comfort level of their personal or family circumstances.”
Individuals and families who participate in the program are expected to attend a kickoff event in the fall, maintain regular communication with the student, provide support for student concerns and introduce students to activities available in the area, she added.
Due to NJCAA requirements, Totty noted there will be some restrictions that apply for those families who serve as hosts for student athletes.
How to register
Area residents interested in the program should fill out an online application at WP.MissouriState.edu/HostFamilyProgram. Applicants will be paired with students by student services staff, who also will oversee the program.
“We believe this initiative will serve to improve retention of our students because it provides additional support for students who may be living far from family and friends,” Totty said. “Our vision is this friendship program will introduce our students to the great opportunities that can be found in the West Plains and surrounding areas.”