Monday, June 19, 2017

Vol State Professors on Freshman Success

Believe it or not, your professors were once students too; they survived college and lived to teach about it. I interviewed a few of them, asking them about their time as freshmen and what advice they had for you. Here’s what the professors at Vol State had to say:

What was it like being a freshman, and how does that affect what you’re doing now?

Professor Leslie LaChance:I felt empowered by getting to choose my own classes and create my own schedule. I really liked how all the different classes created an intellectual synergy. I loved being in classes with a diverse group of students and faculty who challenged me to think for myself, to connect my own dots, and to synthesize what I was learning. That experience affects me now as a lifelong learner who is interested in interdisciplinary studies and as a teacher who wants her students to think for themselves and be empowered by their learning. Also, as an advisor, I like to encourage students to challenge themselves by taking classes on a wide range of subjects.

Professor Douglas Williams: “I had a lot of fun [laughs]. It was a fun experience and it taught me how to manage my time.”

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
Professor LaChance: I think the most important thing to understand is that once you get into college, you are in charge of and responsible for your own learning. Also it’s important to be an active learner. That means you’ll need to put away your distractions in  class (I see you Snapchatting over there!) and participate in discussions, take notes on lectures, do the in-class exercises and group work.”
Professor Williams: “Enjoy the college experience, but don’t lose focus of the learning aspect. That’s why you’re here.”
What is the most important habit a new student should pick up?

Professor LaChance:  “The best habit is to cultivate curiosity and imagination, to challenge yourself each day to learn something surprising, difficult, fun. Think of yourself not just as a college student, but as a lifelong learner.”

Professor Williams: “Use the library! I don’t want to just say ‘study’. Use the library and all available resources.”

What habits should a new student avoid?

Professor LaChance: “Avoid a negative and fixed mindset. If something goes wrong, for instance, if you fail a test or do poorly on a project or essay, don’t dwell on the negativity of that experience. It’s fine to feel angry or embarrassed, but don’t stay angry or embarrassed.  Move beyond that, and ask yourself what you can learn from the experience, how you can do better the next time.”
Professor Douglas: “Staying out late [laughs]. That was one my son who takes classes here had to avoid. More specifically, avoid staying out late on weekdays. Weekends are fine, but you’ll want to get in bed on weekdays.”

Professor Leslie LaChance is a member of the English faculty and director of Sigma Kappa Phi, the English Honors Society.

Professor Douglas Williams is a member of the Natural Sciences faculty.

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