USM Gulf Park has 47 applications on file, and more are coming in. Now, the admissions staff must review those files and determine if those students can be admitted. The campus is only admitting between 60 and 70 Freshmen for the first year. And many potential students are anxious to fill those limited slots.
One of those applicants is18-year old Chantell Barkum. She lives with her parents in Gulfport. For years, she's been longing to major in Child Psychology at USM in Long Beach.
"I wanted to attend USM in 1999, because I wanted to stay down on the Gulf Coast to get situated before I moved on," Barkum says said. "I had hoped to go to USM, but they didn't accept Freshmen."
But that changed Thursday, when the State Supreme Court allowed USM Gulf Park to admit Freshman and Sophomore students.
"I was thrilled," Barkum said. "I've been wanting to go to USM for the longest. I can now get my plans started out, and it just makes me happy."
Since the court ruling, the phone lines have been flooded at the USM Admissions office.
"We're receiving phone calls with inquiries of whether or not we're admitting freshmen," USM Assistant Vice President Dr. Lynn Estes said. "We're telling those inquiries that we are beginning the admissions process, we are accepting applications."
The first group of freshmen will be attending classes at the new Advanced Education Center. They'll be taking core classes like English, Math, History and Biology. And a new library that's been under construction should be finished by this summer, just in time to welcome the new students.
Students like Barkum hope they'll be among those in the first freshmen class.
"I'm just hoping I can fill out my application, get admitted and start as soon as possible, so I can get my future plans on the go," Barkum said.
USM actually started accepting applications back in 1999, when the State College Board designated USM as a dual-campus university and allowed it to enroll freshmen. But the process was put on hold because of legal challenges, including a lawsuit by the Community College Board. The dispute was settled this week by the State Supreme Court.