Posts Tagged ‘freshmen’

According to the calendar it is still summer, but for those of us in higher education summer will soon be a faded memory. I work in a marketing and university relations department on a college campus, and the new academic year is just days away. Goodbye summer, hello students!

I won’t deny that I’ll miss the quiet (and clean bathrooms). But I do love the start of the semester, greeting returning students and getting to know the freshmen. The campus practically hums with positive energy and new possibilities.

Part of the fun of my job is having a student intern each semester who assists with writing, website updates, research, list management, etc. Many of our interns have minimal experience but plenty of enthusiasm, so they get a semester’s worth of Journalism 101 in a matter of days. They learn about deadlines. About suddenly having to shift gears when necessary. How to write in AP style, conduct an interview, take photos.

What do they get out of it? In addition to receiving college credit, they acquire new skills (and beef up their resumes) and get a byline in our publications. That’s great to have in a portfolio.

We benefit from this experience as well. In fact, lessons learned from our students have been invaluable to me, both professionally and personally. Here are just a few reasons why I admire them so much.

They are expert multi-taskers.

Most of our students carry a full course load but have outside obligations that require a good amount of their time. Some hold full-time jobs. Others are responsible for the care of family members. Yet these are often the students who consistently make Dean’s List and hold leadership positions on campus. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m pretty sure they don’t get much sleep.

All it takes is a little creativity.

Who wants the same old same old? Not us! We’re open with them about our expectations, but from the get go we encourage the proverbial thinking-outside-the-box. Out of these brainstorming sessions have come some really cool ideas, things that we hadn’t thought of before. One of our interns taught himself video production and editing, and made several fantastic videos that we added to our website.

They are self-assured and driven.

I am often awestruck by the composure of our students. They are well-spoken and respectful, but do not hesitate to question the status quo and offer alternate solutions. Many of our students are first generation college students, and very motivated to succeed. The dream of a college degree, and the doors that will open for them, keep them going even when the challenges seem insurmountable.

Take two LOLs and call me in the morning.

They are funny, these Generation Y-ers! Just in the nick of time, when the work is accumulating and the stress level is inching up, they come out with something that tickles our funny bone. Finding the humorous side of things can make the tension dissipate: just what the doctor ordered. We have a laugh and then get on with it.

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.

It is gratifying that our interns stay in touch. Just when we start to wonder what ever happened to so-and-so, we’ll get an email or an impromptu visit. Occasionally it will be to request a reference, but most often it is just to say hello and catch us up on their careers, their families. A good thing that is, staying in touch.

We feel good knowing they’re out in the world making a difference. And what they’ve left behind has made a difference for us.

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All too quickly, the summer has ended.

This might puzzle you. After all, it is August 17. There are at least two more weeks of summer left.

But for those of us in higher education, fall is resoundingly here. Freshmen and new students report for orientation tomorrow, with classes beginning on Monday. Oh for the good old days, when the fall semester started after Labor Day!

Griping aside, there is a buzz on campus today as last-minute preparations take place. Tents and chairs in place? Check. Giveaway t-shirts in stock? Check. Perfect weather ordered? Well … keep your fingers crossed.

It’s always a thrill to welcome the incoming class, to watch this exciting new chapter unfold with so many possibilities. Who will be the campus leaders? Who will dazzle us on the playing field? What gifts will this class bring to this community of learning?

By the way, orientation is wayyy different nowadays. (I am probably showing my age by saying “nowadays.”) Everything is done online. You just show up for the festivities.

If you’re an old-timer like me, you might remember your first day something like this.

You arrive on campus and have no idea where to go. A cheerful upperclassman directs you to the gym.

The gym is at least 125 degrees because, after all, these are the dog days of summer. You stand in line to register for a course. Finally it is your turn. An unsmiling administrator hands you a course slip. You suddenly realize, uh oh, there’s a conflict. You’ve made a mistake. Unsmiling Administrator is motioning to the student behind you. You back away slowly.

Ugh. You’ve scheduled Sosh and Econ for the same time block. You glance furtively around the gym. No one else seems to be having an issue. Students are happily exiting the gym with their well-timed course schedules.

You stand in line, again. This time to drop/add. You drop Sosh and add Ballroom Dancing. It’s the only course that is left.

Off to the bookstore you go. There are lines snaking around the store. You search the shelves for dozens of required textbooks. Almost finished, you manage to drop your arm load  of books. All over the floor. Which you wish you could drop through. You feel many eyes boring into you. Someone nearby snickers.

Cute guy standing in line offers to help you collect your books. He asks you where you live, what your major is, what your sign is. Turns out he’s taking Ballroom Dancing, too. Things start looking up.

Welcome, Class of 2015. Enjoy every minute. The next four years will be amazing.

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