What made the 2017, University of South Florida “Freshman Round Up” successful last weekend ? It appears that the USF Broward Alumni Chapter had succeeded again in providing an open discussion forum for addressing the many challenges USF freshmen would likely face in their inaugural term in college. As a retired professor and active member of this chapter, I thus embraced my role to engage twenty five, prospective college students and their families in friendly conversation about college success strategies learned from my instructional past.
I imagine the majority of these aspiring, young adults felt comfortable in the tropical confines of swaying palm trees, an expansive swimming pool and open refreshment bar at this beautiful, suburban residence today. As each student arrived for check- in today, I also figured that interest in today’s event would heighten upon being greeted warmly by ushers and given a souveneir-filled, goodie bag as they entered the house. I also reasoned that the presence of close family nearby would provide emotional support to help them network socially.
While this casual setting invited a “cool” vibe of friends, food and fun, I knew, however, knew from my academic past that any failure by these college entrants to embrace the high academic expectations set by the USF classroom experience and this roundup today could gravitate into something entirely more unsettling. I thus posed the following question to several of them today: How would you stay focused to learn in a lecture hall situation when burdened by outside distractions and professor criticism of your academic performance? Take a look at an excerpt from a recent film, “The Gambler ” for some thought provoking insight regarding the student/professor relationship when a college classroom goes awry.
How fortunate that I observed many of these new USF enrollees acted with sincere enthusiasm about their upcoming college experience. On a personal level, I also enjoyed speaking with these students one- to-one- today without feeling the pressure of grading them as their professor in the classroom. As a bird seeks refuge in a freshly made nest, these aspiring scholars must assume responsibility to likewise learn strategies to feel “right at home” in the tough world of high achieving academia.