Wednesday, October 10, 2012

University 100

Something that has become somewhat of a "hot-button" topic at meetings of Concord University's Student Government Association has been needing to add an extra Monday to the semester. There are several options to attempt to fix that, one of which is to start classes on Monday instead of Wednesday. Opponents of this talk about how it will mess up scheduling with freshman orientation and the University 100 class, which basically teaches freshmen how to be college students.

At the 10-10-12 meeting of the SGA, I learned that University 100 was now only being taught for half of a semester, as opposed to the full 15 weeks. The reason for that was because a large chunk of the Monday and Tuesday before classes begin was used for University 100 "stuff."

I'm actually not really sure what all that "stuff" is, since University 100 was not a class at Concord until the 2007-2008 academic year. If you weren't a freshman, you didn't have to take it.

In 2009, I came back to the staff of The Concordian for one semester. I wrote a weekly column. Here's one that I wrote about University 100, using myself as a reason for why the class was necessary. I was saying that if I had been required to take the class when I was a freshman, maybe I wouldn't be in the situation that I am in.

That piece is below. I pose a question at the end of the column. If anybody has an answer, or additional information, I'd like to hear it.

* * *

Chris Slater
Published 2009, The Concordian

Not to sound cocky, but I'm a smart guy. Read some of my earlier work in The Concordian, check out my blog, take a peek at my Twitter feed, you'll see that I can formulate some good thoughts and come off credibly.

I'm a smart guy. But, I'm a horrible student. I have this huge asterisk beside my name that follows me everywhere I go - Chris Slater*

*Sixth-year Student.

I graduated from high school in June 2004. My first semester at Concord began in August 2004. I'm still here. I have completed 10 semesters of college and am starting number 11.

Why am I still in school? The simple answer is because I failed a bunch of classes. The more complex answer is because I never learned how to be a good college student.

Upon entering college, I did not know how to do three important things - 1) effectively manage my time 2) study properly 3) live on my own.

Without any real training or guidance, I was thrust into room 216 of Wooddell Hall back in 2004 and expected to do all three things. I failed horribly.

I quickly fell into some bad habits that I’ve only recently begun to break.

One of the worst habits was thinking I could pass a class without buying the book. My first semester, I managed to get an A in Personal Wellness without buying the book. If part of your curriculum is to run laps around the track, you really don't need a book for that. I can't tell you how many classes I tried to pass without a book after that only to wind up failing.

My other bad habit was to skip classes. It all began in mid-September, 2004. My roommate was Alex Hosseini (before his Tau Kappa Epsilon days). At the time, we were both wide-eyed freshmen. It was 8 a.m. - his alarm clock went off and mine followed a couple seconds later. We both sat up in bed, shirtless and groggy. I can recall the conversation like it was yesterday:

Alex: I don't want to go to class.

Me: Me neither.

Alex: I'm going back to bed.

Me: Me too.

Thus began my descent into bad college-decision making.

What I needed was some sort of class or workshop or guidance in my early days. I was young enough that I may not have appreciated it back then, but it very well could have helped me graduate on time. I can't even begin to image how different things would be for me if I had somebody six years ago to explain how to study and for how long and how to manage living in the dorms and responsibilities and whatnot. I don't know where I'd be now - probably not here, which would be a good thing.

I've heard conflicting reports about how effective Concord's "University 100" class is. At its core, University 100 is a class that teaches college students how to be college students. It's taught by several different teachers and administrators.

I've heard rumblings from freshmen over the last few years that they don't like the class and that they think it's pointless. I'll take that for what it's worth - just about every class seems pointless when you're taking it. It isn't until after the fact that you begin to appreciate things.

This is the third year of University 100 - I'd be interested in seeing some retention rates of students who took this class. It would be interesting to see how many students who were incoming freshmen in the fall of 2007 are still here today.

Does University 100 work? It's impossible to tell for a few more years. The class gives students the information, but University 100 will only be a success if the students use that information. It will be a success if we see fewer dropouts (like a lot of my friends) and fewer sixth-year students (like me).

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