Campus Spotlight: The Writing Center

Hopefully, you’re getting excited for college — making new friends, moving away from home, and beginning to feel like a grown-up.

But what about the school part? College is definitely a step up from high school, no matter where you end up attending. Does the idea of more homework and harder assignments make you less excited?

Well, yeah, probably. College is going to be hard. But at Transylvania, there are plenty of free resources in place to help make it a little less intimidating.

My favorite of those academic resources is the Writing Center. But I’m biased because I’ve worked there for the last two years. But that also means I can give you the inside scoop about what it’s like!

You can come to the WC with any assignment for any class at any stage of the writing process — from your first informal essay in your First Year Seminar to the final draft of your last collegiate research project. You can bring in a prompt, without having written anything, and brainstorm topics with a consultant. You can create an outline, get help with perfecting citations, or proofread a final draft before turning in your paper.

The consultants in the Writing Center have all been nominated by professors for their writing skills. After being chosen by the WC director, Dr. Scott Whiddon (who’s also my awesome academic advisor), students take a semester-long practicum course that trains them to work in the WC. We read essays about writing center theory, talk about writing, and shadow sessions with current consultants. The point is, Writing Center Consultants know what they’re doing.

Basically, our job is to make your job as a writer much easier. Which is good, because Transylvania’s curriculum is pretty writing-intensive. The writing center, just like the rest of our tutoring services, is not remedial. Tutoring is open to any student of any grade, and it’s never seen as embarrassing to visit one of these services for help.

Because at Transylvania, we’re all in this together. I love that I can help students feel more confident in their writing, because I like writing and I’m good at it. The same is true for my friends Rachel and Ashley, who tutor for math and biology in the ACE — they like helping other students in subjects they excel in and enjoy. And we get paid to do it!

I love our tutoring services from both ends — I’ve made appointments with WC consultants for help on papers, I’ve gone to tutoring sessions for economics, and I love working in the WC. No matter how great of a writer, or biologist, or student, you are, you can always improve and there is always more to learn. Transylvania provides us with free opportunities to get the help we need to succeed.

College is hard. But at Transylvania, you won’t have to figure it out alone.

Coming Home Again

emilymartin

My parents went to a college that was a lot like Transylvania. A small, private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination.

Only my parents’ alma mater — Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma — no longer exists as a university. After facing financial struggles, Phillips closed, but chose to form a unique scholarship and leadership program with its remaining assets.

My brother and I, along with two other Transylvania students, received scholarships from that Phillips University Legacy Foundation, and got to attend a leadership conference held by the organization in November. It was really fun, we learned a lot, and if you’re a DOC student who ends up attending Transy or any other DOC-affiliated school, you should apply here!

Transylvania's PULF Scholars: Elijah, me, Hannah, and my brother Daniel (from L to R)

Transylvania’s PULF Scholars: Elijah, me, Hannah, and my brother Daniel (from L to R)

Since Daniel and I learned about their school while on scholarship at our own college home, my parents thought it would be fun to visit the old Phillips campus over our Christmas break, while we were in Oklahoma visiting my grandma. And it was pretty cool to see the buildings that were still used by the regional college that exists there now, the houses my dad lived in while he attended seminary, and hearing more stories about my parents’ college years.

That visit got me thinking about what stories I’ll tell my kids about my time at Transylvania and living in Lexington — which buildings I’ll want to show them, which professors I’ll describe, and which friends will star in those stories.

Of course, by the time that visit happens, so much about Transylvania and Lexington will have changed. We’ll have several new residence halls on campus, and even downtown will look different. Current construction projects will be long completed, and new ones will have started.

The campus that I know and love now will not look the same. And that’s great! I can’t wait to come back and see all of the new buildings, programs, and traditions that future Pioneers will have. The fact that things will be different in the future isn’t a bad thing. It proves that our university is only getting better — and that makes me more appreciative of my experience, and it also makes my degree more valuable.

Because what won’t have changed are the kinds of experiences students have on this campus. People will still be forming lifelong friendships, learning from world-class professors, and gaining invaluable work experiences.

When I’m all grown up and return to 300 North Broadway, I’m sure it won’t look the same, but I know it will feel the same. Because no matter what form it takes, Transylvania will always be home.

Globe Trott(stumbl)ing

Sam Crankshaw

There are a lot of great things about studying abroad in France. I could suck up to my professors and say the academics are what sold me, but studying abroad has a lot more to offer than classes. Be it something as simple as very high quality cheese everywhere at low prices, as complex as learning a new language, or as fun as meeting new friends, studying abroad is limitless.

Sam continues his adventures in Europe!

Sam continues his adventures in Europe!

Europe is small. Europeans like to travel. They have airplanes. You do the math. You can seriously fly from Paris to Oslo, Caen to London, or Helsinki to Rome for as little as $30. Getting a taste of tickets that inexpensive changes you at your core (ok that might be a bit dramatic). As you might expect, though, I’m trying to do the impossible and see an entire continent in one semester.

I recently got back from my one week winter break (1 of 2 week long breaks) in which I took 10 days to see Zurich, Switzerland, Milan and Rome, Italy, and Vatican City. To say it was amazing, eye opening, and beyond fulfilling does not even serve it justice.

I saw some of the best museums in the world, such as the Pinacoteca di Brera (Milan), the Vatican museums, and the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana (Milan), to name a few. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana currently has the largest collection of Da Vinci’s work in the world, and the others house artifacts ranging from pre-historic cities, high renaissance tableaus, and modern art. All in all I think I saw nearly ten incredible museums.

On top of the museums, I got a taste of Swiss and Italian culture, rode the train through the Alps, navigated countries that spoke neither French nor English, and experienced the “aperitivo.” Between leaving work and going home many Italians will meet for a drink and a bite to eat. The aperitivo started in Milan as peanuts with a drink, but developed into a full buffet of delicious food. This is where happy hour took root.

This blog references stumbling because as with any two 20 years olds traveling around Europe, there are bound to be some hiccoughs. Be it the missed train, the ride that never arrived, ending up in a fancy restaurant way underdressed, or figuring out how to navigate a country of people with whom you cannot communicate, there were hiccoughs. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Studying abroad gives you so many opportunities that aren’t visible at its surface. My winter break wasn’t just a trip full of Michael Angelo, Da Vinci, Matisse, Roman ruins, and Swiss Alps; it was a series of adventures within an adventure that taught me lessons and brought to life what I learned in the classroom. Being a Transy student doesn’t stop at the classroom door or even at the airport terminal; it leads you around the world, sparking your curiosity and bringing to fruition ideas that are limited by classroom walls.

Paris is for (Dog) Lovers

Sam Crankshaw

The dream of Paris is to walk hand in hand with your significant other on the shady boulevards once graced by some of the greatest artists, writers, and politicians, right? (Sounds like Transy, right?) It is the city of love after all.

While you might not be living in the exact cliché moment mentioned above, you are certain to fall in love in Paris, be it with the endless supply of museums, historic sites, leafy neighborhoods, parks, the Seine, the baguettes, or the dogs.

I officially marked my tenth trip to Paris in my life just last weekend, yet I was still finding myself in a new, yet familiar city every step of the way. Paris is just 2 hours from my home in Caen, so it makes for a good weekend trip, as well as a good rest stop for a train or flight connection to somewhere else.

Just two days ago I saw an amazing Impressionist expo at Musée d’Orsay, a tattoo exhibition that was actually studied in one of Transy’s own art history classes at Musée du Quai Branly, and enjoyed a sunny walk down the Seine. I also happened to be there the weekend before, when I visited Trocadéro, the Latin Quarter (where all of the students live), and Jardin du Luxembourg, among other sites. I have plans to return to finally conquer the Louvre. (The best part about Europe is that you’re student card gets you into museums for free all over the European Union).

Living in Europe for an extended time has opened my eyes to things that no short term stay of my past ever could have. If I have learned one thing, it’s that every day must be an adventure. My friend Hannah and I have a countdown for our return to the US, but not for the reason you are thinking; we have it to remind us just how short this stay really is, and that we have to utilize every second. (Though I cannot wait to get back to Transy). Be it a day of Matisse and Monet, a cheese and cider tour, or something as simple as relaxing in a café, every aspect exposes me to something new.

Paris may be the city of love, but I fell in love with it’s love of dogs. The French love their dogs. They let them in restaurants, in their handbags, in the parks, and more. Studying abroad doesn’t just prepare you to analyze and understand views on complicated issues like conflicts, and trade; it also exposes you to the simplest, and often most compelling, cultural quirks. Transy is capable of giving you a world view from the classroom, but with its global reach, Transy develops you into a world citizen.

Why study the liberal arts?

emilymartin

College is hard, no matter what your major is. So why did we all decide to choose an educational path that includes classes in fields we didn’t want to major in?

It can be easy to think of college as just a step on the road towards your grown-up career plans. That’s definitely what I had in mind at first.

But now that I’ve worked my way through all of those “general education requirements,” I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for the liberal arts. (For more on the different kinds of classes you’ll take at Transylvania, click here!)

What I’ve learned to value the most about the liberal arts is that it connects me to the rest of the world — because my education here has required me to think about far more than my own self, my own interests, and my own culture.

I’ve taken classes on different religious traditions (Judeo-Christian Heritage, Buddhist Religious Traditions, and Islamic Religious Traditions), different places (an anthropology class on Appalachia and the Environment and a travel course to London, England!), and even within my major, classes on different writing styles (Business Writing, Intro to Journalism, and Poetry Workshop).

But I’ve also learned how to appreciate those subjects that don’t initially interest me. For example, I’ve never been fascinated by economics. Or math. Or anything remotely related to either one. But taking classes in both taught me to focus on the aspects of those subjects that I do want to understand better. Because whether I like it or not, both classes teach skills that I’m going to need in my post-Transy life. The same goes for students who despise writing — an analytical essay may not be fun, but you know that becoming a better writer will be beneficial, no matter what you do after college.

Every possible subject there is to study may not be initially interesting — but they are all important. Or else, no one would be studying them. So get creative and look for aspects of those classes that connect to what you’re interested in, or that apply to skills you’ll need in the job you want.

Maybe that sounds impossible right now. I promise you, though, that those connections are everywhere. Immersing yourself in a liberal arts environment just makes you better at spotting them.

Because the world is much bigger than just us. Academia is much broader than just our specific interests. It’s okay to play favorites — you’re going to major in something — but it’s not fair to ignore every other subject. Doing so only puts you at a disadvantage.

The liberal arts prepare us for everything in the post-college world. Including acceptance into professional school and landing great jobs. Plus we’re better writers and more interesting conversation partners. So if you want to be prepared, broaden your horizons, and have fun all at the same time, study the liberal arts.

It’s All About the Connections

emilymartin

I know I’ve written about how cool our liberal arts curriculum is before, but I’m going to do it again because it’s that important. 

And if you’re going to make a major investment into a liberal arts school like Transylvania, I want you to know what you’re paying for – and don’t you?

This semester, I’m taking three classes (senior perks – I have basically all of my requirements completed already): Religion Senior Seminar, Islamic Religious Traditions, and Readings on Peace Education. This semester is also the first one in a while in which I’m not taking a communication class (my major) – that part’s a little strange, but I do love having the flexibility to try other academic fields.

Anyways, one of my favorite things about the liberal arts is that it teaches you to form connections in unlikely ways. You’ll be encouraged to connect the projects you do in an elective class to your major, or your post-college plans.

But sometimes, the classes themselves overlap, and that’s exactly what has happened to me this semester. There were a couple of weeks in which I felt a little déjà vu – we had very similar conversations in my three classes. And it was so exciting because I could easily bring in outside perspectives into each discussion.

The theme that brought such a strong connection between my three classes was terrorism. One of the books we read for Religion Senior Seminar was about the history of religion and violence. The last sections of the book were about more modern associations we make, based on recent events caused by religious extremists. Each world religion’s history was discussed and when we talked about the Islam chapter, I was able to contribute additional background information based on what we were talking about in my Islam class that week.

We haven’t talked about terrorism specifically in Islamic Religious Traditions – though we have learned much more about why associating the religion with its most extreme practitioners is really contradictory.

In my Peace Education class, I have definitely been able to put my other classes to work. Our major assignment for the class was a research paper, but Dr. Hurley encouraged us to be creative and pursue other kinds of projects with partners if we wanted. Two of my friends and I decided to do a group presentation about how the three Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) talk about peace. There was plenty of information from my two other classes that made it into this big project.

I loved seeing my classes connect so clearly because it makes it easier to understand information when it’s being repeated in different contexts. And it also allows me to study the same concepts from a variety of perspectives. I get a much more holistic understanding when I’m using these different lenses. And that’s what the liberal arts are all about.

The College Circle of Life

J.T Henderson

As my first year is quickly drawing to an end, it has been very exciting to see potential new students on campus interviewing for scholarships. I remember going through that process last year when I was a potential new student, and I am so glad that a year later I now have the opportunity to see this from the other side. I don’t think it would be as significant if I hadn’t chosen Transy. Yeah there are students visiting and interviewing at college campuses around the world, but at Transy I have had the opportunity to be a part of interviewing some of these potential students for scholarships, to hang out with them during their time on campus, and to even host an overnight for his scholarship interview the next day. It has been awesome to play a role in continuing the cycle that started my successful career here at Transy – the College Circle of Life.

On the flip side of this cycle, seeing these new faces is also a little sad, because that means that a fourth of the people that are currently here will not be returning to campus this fall. Within the last few months I’ve heard seniors talking about the outcomes of their graduate school applications and filling out applications for jobs for which their education has greatly prepared them. These people who have been impacting the Transylvania community for the past four years and who I have been role models for other students and myself will be moving on to life after Transy. This isn’t completely saddening though, because not only are there new students who will be arriving to campus this August to begin their educational journeys, but also because these graduating seniors will soon be using their talents and knowledge to start impacting the world if they hadn’t already been doing so before.

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It is so reassuring to know that Transylvania is consistently producing high-achieving graduates whose education and undergraduate degree will actually be beneficial to them; in three years it will be beneficial to me as well. After the four years you spend at Transy, you know that there will always be a path to pioneer and that you’ll be the one who’s leading the way. The College Circle of Life will continue, so congrats to the Class of 2015 (especially our graduating bloggers Emily Martin and Rachel Morgan), and welcome to the Class of 2019!