It happens every year in August. It occurs subtly and at first you don’t even really notice.  A sort of alteration that goes from zero to ninety before you even realize it is happening. It can catch you off guard and leave you wondering how you could not have noticed sooner.

It is a migration of sorts like the migration of butterflies or maybe Canadian Geese on a northern trek. One minute there were only a handful and the next minute there were so many you couldn’t count or keep track.  It mimicked a dry creek bed transitioning to a frothing raging river in a matter of minutes. It affected housing, restaurants, parking, shopping and suddenly there were long lines everywhere. There were shortages of small household appliances, bread, snacks and even cereal and if you were looking for a place to live you were fresh out of luck. Nothing was available. 

If you haven’t guessed by now it is the influx of college students heading to Tarleton for the fall semester. Returning students are everywhere. For a short time parents were in tow but they soon headed home to deal with the empty nest syndrome as students embarked on the next journey of their lives. 

Fortunately for Stephenville and the surrounding areas we are lucky to have them.  While it is true traffic has tripled, the local Wal-Mart, HEB and all restaurants are still working to restock their shelves these recent residents are embarking on a new journey. Their journey toward additional education is good for all of us.

Some 2,000 freshman students will call Stephenville home during the coming months and they range from football players, basketball players and future teachers, rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, business students, fashion students, agricultural students, law students, science and biology students and other assorted students round out the list of young people who have made Tarleton their university of choice.

Pursuing excellence in all forms is probably the main reason students attend Tarleton.  The other reason they choose Tarleton is because of the small town atmosphere Stephenville offers.  It has that small town homey feeling that makes leaving your real home a little easier.

As hectic and chaotic as it seems there is just something that makes you feel a little better about our future as you watch these kids make Stephenville home.  My experience has been that most of these kids are polite, well mannered and respectful. Some of them along the way have had some “raisin’” and it makes you feel good to have them in our community. Generally speaking, they are glad to be here and are a positive and encouraging addition in our midst. 

It is true that while there is an increased amount of traffic, additional waiting time at restaurants and the fact that kids seem to be everywhere be it bicycle, walking, or maneuvering four door dually trucks it is fun to live in a college town.  Perhaps it is because we savor the lazy days of summer when they go home and things move a little slower or maybe it is the fact that young new faces dressed in jeans or shorts and saying “yes mam” or “no sir” makes us grab hold of the idea there is, indeed, some slim hope for the future or maybe it is nothing more than they shop and spend their money. 

Whatever the case they moved in with a subtle roar. They are with us for a short time and will move on to greater things while having left a small part of themselves in our midst.  Regardless, they are here and I’m glad they have chosen to make Stephenville home even for a short minute.

Welcome back students. Hopefully, your school year is off to a great start. The time will pass quickly and hopefully your time here will be a time you will never forget.

Melinda Clements is an E-T community columnist. She can be reached at