By Morgan Givney
Builder Camp is done to assist freshmen in finding friends, familiarizing themselves with Southwestern College traditions, and to establish a sense of belonging. Once the freshmen class is on campus and classes have begun, the priority of First Year Seminar is to help them transition by covering academic topics such as time management.
Fall 2012 semester introduced PREP 100 in addition to Builder Camp. With this addition, the freshmen experienced a complete orientation.
Tami Pullins, associate vice president for advising and student success, coordinated the class. She views Builder Camp and the class as a collaboration to help students be successful. “I think they work together. What we found was that during Builder Camp, students are interested in making friends and finding someone to sit with at lunch, not how to study,” said Pullins.
The course was taught by a variety of different professors, all who volunteered. Pullins said the professors wanted to work with freshmen and understood the transition they were experiencing. While each professor taught from an identical syllabus, freshmen taking the class did notice variations from the course sections in work and material being covered.
Taylor Sitton, marine biology freshman, said that her class did not follow the syllabus strictly at all. “We were off the entire semester,” said Sitton. Other students noted that their class followed the syllabus directly.
Braeden Berger, physical performance in sports studies freshman, said, “She followed it exactly. We did everything on the syllabus, all the work. But she was more lenient about it than other classes’ professors”.
“I think that it’s just to focus on what you should and shouldn’t do in college,” said Kristina Walker, pre-med freshman.
Topics covered in the class were academically focused. Zach Meeker, physical performance in sports studies freshman, said, “It helped me find out about the library and the things in it which was useful.”
“The most valuable thing I learned was my strengths as a person,” said Sitton.
All the freshmen interviewed mentioned the Docking Lecture as something they felt didn’t contribute to learning anything. Becker described the lecture as a political speaker they were all required to listen to, take notes, and write a paper over.
Many freshmen commented on the work load of their class in comparison to other classes. “It was a lot for one class that met once a week. We had homework every week, most of the time it was an essay, one to three pages usually,” said Walker. “The work load definitely depended on the teacher. There were times we would have homework and other people wouldn’t have homework for two weeks.”
Michael Becker, biology freshmen, didn’t think the work was too much. “Compared to my other classes, it wasn’t that bad,” said Becker.
“The course is designed to be more intensive early,” Pullins said. This is done to supply the students with the things that will most “positively influence them” said Pullins.
The class was initiated to assist the freshmen with success. By developing a seminar class, the faculty expected to see a higher retention rate among freshmen.
Pullins explained that numbers are not reported until the 20th day of classes, so they do not have information on if the class was successful in that aspect. However, there has been a focus group with the instructors of the course to assess the strengths and weaknesses. There is also a plan to meet with students to hear comments and concerns about the course.
“I think that (the course) was effective. One of the reasons why we started the class is because we wanted instructors and freshmen to connect with each other, for them to see students all through the semester. We thought having this course would let professors see the freshmen class more clearly, know them better, and help them with the transition” said Pullins.
Morgan Givney is a junior majoring in Communication. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.