How to Prepare for a College Class

emilymartin

You know by now that college is going to be a major step up from high school. Maybe you’ve already sat in on a college class!

But besides it being generally more challenging, what are the real differences between a high school and college class?

I’m glad you asked!

The main difference I’ve noticed is the amount of preparation you’re expected to do before each class meeting. Before I came to college, when we were assigned to read the next chapter of a textbook, no one usually did because we knew we’d be covering that material the next day in class, so it wasn’t really necessary.

In college, it really is necessary. While you’ll cover the material in the textbook or novel you’re working with in class, your professor is not going to go over a summary of the reading. They plan the class assuming that you’ve already read it, so they can skip the basic summary. So always always always do your assigned reading!

I’ve also appreciated that classes here are much more discussion-based than my classes were in middle school or high school. You’re expected to have something to contribute to the conversation.

But how do you do that?

On the first day of class, the professor who I’d ask to be my academic advisor by the end of the semester, Dr. Scott Whiddon told us to always come to class with one good question and one good comment. Years later, and I still work off of that advice as I prepare for class every day. I look for something in the reading I have a question about — whether it’s more of an open-ended question to get a conversation going, or something I am confused on that I want the professor to clarify. I also look for something I particularly liked or didn’t like in the reading. Maybe there was a quote I thought made a great point, or there was an argument I didn’t agree with. Those are the kinds of things you want to bring in with you to class. It’s what your professor’s expecting — so they’ll appreciate when you’re ready to contribute right at the beginning of class.

And since I’ve been talking about reading, here’s another tip. Don’t be afraid to write in your books! Even if you’re renting a textbook from the bookstore or Amazon, you’re allowed to highlight and make notes. Or buy a lot of Post-Its and write your notes that way. You don’t want to forget that piece of the reading you wanted to talk about. Plus, these notes will make studying and paper-writing feel much less stressful.

Yes, college classes will be harder. But do your homework, listen to your professors, and come in ready to contribute, and you’ll be off to a great start!

Leaning into the Discomfort

Lesley Goodaker

For most people, coming to college is extremely intimidating. Everywhere you turn, it seems like it’s new people, new places, new classes—new everything! This was especially true for me my freshman year. Move-in day was only the second time I had been to Transylvania, let alone, Lexington. Add to that the fear of being three and a half hours from home and the pressure of knowing only one other person on campus, this self-proclaimed introvert continuously found herself on the edge of discomfort. So, suffice to say, I know a thing or two about stepping outside of your comfort zone—and my advice? Embrace it!

  • Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself first. Sometimes, Transy’s smaller size can be intimidating. Take the initiative to get to know your peers (especially during August term)! I know it can be nerve-wracking, but if you push yourself just a little and do something as small as saying hi to someone you met in the greet line, people will remember you.
  • Be yourself! A lot of people get stuck on the mindset that they have to act a certain way to make new friends in college; however, that’s simply not the case. Don’t be afraid of what others might think of you. Embrace the qualities, likes, dislikes, and hobbies that make you who you are. Chances are, you’ll find someone who feels the same!
  • Join organizations similar to (or completely different from) the ones you were a member of in high school! College campuses can be overwhelming with so many new faces; however, Transy’s intimate setting lends itself well to building relationships fast. By joining a club on campus, you’ll be able to hone in on smaller groups of people with similar interests as you that you can really get to know.
  • You’re not alone! Homesickness is an inevitable part of transition to college for many students. Luckily, at Transy, you’re not alone. During August term, you’ll meet Resident Advisors, August Term Scholars, faculty/staff, and other students who are willing to lend a helping hand when homesickness starts to set in. Before long, you’ll be having so much fun playing sand volleyball, reading your favorite book under  nice shade tree, or hanging out with your hallmates, that missing home will be a thing of the past.

Whether it’s introducing yourself to a classmate, trying your hand a sand volleyball, or getting a group together to head downtown for a scoop of ice cream, always remember to lean into the discomfort. I promise, the benefits you’ll reap from these interactions far outweigh the millisecond of uncertainty or anxiety you might feel.

Campus Spotlight: An Inside Look at Campus Counseling

Lesley Goodaker

It’s no secret, college is a huge transitory time in the lives of students. For some, the change is seemingly insurmountable. It can seem like the world is coming at you from all angles and you just can’t catch your breath. Between classes, co-curriculars, and getting settled into your new home, it can seem like you have no free time to just be. In this way, many students (from freshmen to seniors) find that they often neglect their mental health in favor of excelling in their studies; however, all too soon, many find that they soon neglect their studies too. While this sounds frightening, at Transylvania, there a myriad of systems in place to ensure the success of students both emotionally and academically, one of which is on-campus counseling services.

Typically, students seek counseling for a variety of reasons including long-standing problems that interfere with their day-to-day activities, preventing the onset of additional problems, and even as an opportunity for open dialogue. At Transylvania, students have access to one-on-one counseling which provides them with the opportunity to talk with a counselor about anything and everything in a judgment-free environment. Transy’s counseling center services are kept 100% confidential and are never a part of a student’s academic record. Sessions with the center are up to the students’ discretion and may occur weekly, bimonthly, or as otherwise arranged. Other services provided by the counseling center include couples’ counseling and referrals to other mental health services in the area–all at no cost to you!

Whether you’re a first-year or seasoned senior, counseling services can provide the help you need to tackle the personal, professional, and academic issues plaguing your mind. As with any other campus personnel, Transy’s counselors are just a phone call away and more than willing to help in any ways they can. So, next time you’re on campus, stop by our counseling center (located in the rear of the Campus Center) and say hello!

My Road to Religion

emilymartin

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Think about what you’re planning to study in college, or what career you’d like to have when you’re older. What about that decision is appealing to you? From where — or whom — did that inspiration originate?

When I started college, I thought it’d be cool to take a religion class, to see how what I learned in class compared or complemented what I’d learned from a lifetime of Sunday School and church camp. Plus, my dad is a Disciples of Christ minister, which is the Christian denomination Transy is historically affiliated with, so that connection was how I heard about Transylvania in the first place. But I never saw it being a major feature of my academic experience.

But then, during my first year here, I was asked to serve as a student representative on the search committee tasked with hiring our first-ever Associate Dean for Religious Life. I got to meet with other students from different religious backgrounds, our two religion professors, our Interim Associate Dean for Religious Life, and a member of the Board of Trustees (both impressive alumni!).

I got to read every application and cover letter for the 100+ candidates. We were included in every meeting, narrowing them down to the several we did phone interviews with, and the five finalists we interviewed on campus.

By the end of that process, I knew I wanted to take classes with those two professors I’d worked with — Dr. Barnsley and Dr. Jones because I had gotten to know them a little bit, and wanted to learn more from them. And after I took my first class with each of them, I was hooked.

Plus, the person we ended up hiring for the Associate Dean position, Rev. Dr. Wilson Dickinson, quickly became one of my favorite staff members at Transylvania. He even wrote me recommendation letters for my graduate school applications!

I ended up declaring a religion minor at the end of my junior year — even with a major and another minor, I still had plenty of space in my schedule! I took classes on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and a fascinating May term class with Wilson on Sustainability and Theology.

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One of my favorite days of my May term “Sustainability and Theology” class was our field trip to the Sisters of Loretto convent (about an hour away). It was a fun, relaxing day learning about how their community understands the connections between religion and the environment.

I look the Senior Seminar class in religion, too, and I used that opportunity to build off of the WRC senior seminar project I had completed the previous semester. That second research course was a great opportunity to expand an existing project and approach the same subject from a different perspective.

The religion classes I’ve taken have expanded my worldview and made me a better person. That’s not just because I think religion was an important subject for me to study, but because I was surrounded by people who were interested in the same subject, but for a variety of reasons.

I’m not saying everyone should have to take a religion class before they graduate — although at Transy, you totally should because the professors are fantastic and you’ll love it.

What I am saying is that you should be open to letting your life plan change as you change in college. Changing your mind is okay. When you feel inspiration — no matter where it’s coming from — you should follow it.

Community Engagement Through the Arts

Lesley Goodaker

In spite of Transylvania’s longstanding place in the heart of Lexington, it is only within recent years that the greater Lexington area and members of Transylvania’s community have had a more interactive relationship. Recent years have seen the creation of paper lanterns hung in a local park, temporary murals displayed in local establishments, birdhouses distributed throughout out nearby neighborhoods, and marketing efforts with local non-profit organizations. As a Writing, Rhetoric, and Communication (WRC) student, I have had the privilege of being involved with two courses which have worked alongside community partners.

Community Engagement muralA mural created through community engagement

My first efforts that took me outside of the Transy Bubble were a part of my Digital Rhetoric course. The course, taught by second year professor Dr. Kerri Hauman, unveiled the manner through which digital tools are influencing our understandings of rhetorical conventions and principles. Accordingly, we utilized a number of digital tools including audio recorders, camcorders, and online sites to create variosu pieces of work throughout the semester. In taking our studies a step further and outside of The Bubble, Dr. Hauman organized for our class of six (in conjunction with another WRC course)to work alongside of a local physical rehabilitation facility to create digital propaganda. My group was assigned to the facility’s Adaptive Recreation program. In doing so, we were given the opportunity to act as professionals in the work force. We were responsible for meeting with member’s on staff at the facility to determine what they were looking for in terms of final projects as well as organizing everything in between from interviews to filming. At the end of the term, our final was to present our projects to staff members at the facility.

Another project I was involved with was a part of the Writing for/with Non-profits course offered during May Term. The course, co-taught by Drs Kerri Hauman and Scott Whiddon, allowed for students to partner with members of the Lexington Community Action Council to again, produce viable propaganda for the organizations we worked with. Throughout the process, students worked within small groups to determine what would best suit each Community partner and serve them well in the years to come. While both professors offered their full assistance when needed, they ensured that their presence maintained a distance so that students felt secure and confident in the final works produced. Students were offered a sense of autonomy which many had never before been afforded in an academic setting.

Overall, both courses proved extremely rewarding. In terms of academics, I learned a great deal about rhetorical conventions and principles; however, in terms of practicality, I learned so much more. I learned how to work in a professional environment with members outside of the Transylvania community. Alongside my group mates, I worked to create finalized products which are ready to take their places in my digital portfolio. Most importantly, I learned to apply what I have been taught within each of my classes in a practical, real-world sense, and that alone, has been well worth the effort. No matter the class or professor, at Transylvania, students are continually encouraged to engage with the community around them using what they have learned in their classes. In this way, Transylvania students are leaps and bounds ahead of students on many other campuses who have been confined to the four walls of their classrooms.

My Inner Jack Sparrow

Sam Crankshaw

Europe makes the US look like an infant. The house that I have been living in for the past 4 months is in the “new” part of town, yet it is as old as Lexington’s oldest buildings. As you can imagine, this makes for some fun treasure hunting.

Europeans have markets and flea markets all over. Two in particular, and rather famous ones, that I visited are the Camden Market in London, England, and the Jeu de Balle market in Brussels, Belgium. Both markets, like most, are based on bartering and/or stiff negotiations…more on that later.

Having taken French for several years, I developed an affinity for some of its most prominent authors. Lucky for me, I came across three matching volumes of Molière plays in Brussels. (I also saw his final resting place in Cimetière du Père LaChaise in Paris.) Printed in the 1930s and kept in excellent condition, these three books were any French literature dork’s dream.

What was standing between me and those books? A few euros, a six year old, and his dad. Twenty minutes after some stiff negotiations in poorly spoken French, as it was not the first language of anyone involved, I got away with what I wanted.

I had a similar experience at Camden Market, buying some traditional French tableware that had wound up in London. Studying abroad isn’t just about studying and making friends. Getting around a new town, a new country, and a new continent opens hundreds of doors that let you experience a piece of someone else’s life, and sometimes let you bring that piece back to remember it for years to come.

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.