Every semester I start my classes by asking students, most of whom are freshmen, about their goals while attending the course. Students typically talk about learning course content, and I reciprocate by sharing all four of my goals. I deliver the curriculum while learning how to become a better teacher. Then we talk about mentorship and the value of the one-on-one interactions that it allows. Finally, I share my passion for the Arabic Language Organization as one of many campus groups that aim to build a community through fun activities and events. Then the semester flies by. I get to teach, learn, mentor and have lots of fun. I also get to watch students excel, achieve, grow and mature. Learning experiences, exciting moments and missed opportunities all come and go, leaving their marks on each of us.
Throughout the semester, we use the same physical space and similar lesson plans, but students occasionally seem different. Wide attentive eyes seem tired and get teary sometimes. Excited voices that contribute generously to class discussions may sound shaky or even become totally silent. Lively emails seeking recommendations or enclosing invitations to engaging events turn into anxious messages requesting an extended deadline or a postponed exam. Discussions in my office are more about pushing through than savoring the moment. While most students continue to make it to class, some seem to lose focus, and others begin to have attendance issues. As an instructor, I should be able to do something, but I can’t. My heart goes out, but my hands are tied, and my reach is limited. It is all up to you, my dear student. All up to you.
College life celebrates the individuality and independence of each student, which shifts the role of parents and teachers from supervision to support and highlights the importance of healthy partnerships with caring adults. So, let me tell you that, along with many others on campus, I am here for you.
Ready to discuss your change of major or adding a minor? We can assist you in planning your summer involvements and searching for jobs. We can talk about campus involvements that are most relevant to your interests and goals. We are always glad to support your pursuits, advocate for you and point out campus resources that best suit your needs. But it is all in your hands, my dear student. All in your hands.
You’re an adult now, and we respect your privacy, so feel empowered to take the first step by raising issues, asking questions or sharing concerns. When something is on your mind, it is up to you to speak up. When feeling overwhelmed or stressed, we expect you to reach out. Communication is key, so make sure you start the conversation, and keep in mind that we are all on the same side. The side where you’re healthy, happy and thriving. Let’s work together so that your college experience is marked with balance — work and fun, academics and activities, individuality and community, independence and support, privilege and responsibility.
Having spent more than 10 years at this great institution, I can assure you that this call is not only from me. This is me, this is us, this is Elon!