How did you spend your summer? Were you stationed by a pool, beach, or swim dock? Did you travel and go on all new adventures? Did you slave countless hours for minimum wage or did you earn credit at an internship? Whatever you did, I’m not sure it could compare to how I spent my summer at William Woods University’s Freshman Advantage!
When classes let out and the residence halls closed in May, I packed up my belongings and said tough goodbyes to my friends and my home-away-from-home, WWU. All of my friends and classmates would linger after their finals just to take in as much of the Woods that they could until next fall. Although I was sad to go back home, I knew Freshman Advantage was in less than a month and I would have the opportunity to return to campus for a month of fun, friends, and soon to be family!
What is Freshman Advantage? Freshman Advantage, often shortened to FA, is a kick start program for graduated high school seniors that plan on attending William Woods University. The program gives students real insight into what college is really like! For starters, students at FA take seven hours of class in three weeks and live in the residence halls. It’s a great opportunity to meet some of your future classmates as well!
My job at FA was to be a mentor and leader for the freshman students. I was there to tutor students in their classes, coordinate events and activities for the night, and be a friend and a guide. There was a fun activity planned for every week night. These ranged from a wiffleball tournament, to tie-dying t-shirts, to sand volleyball. The events were especially important because we got to learn more about the students and also bond as a group. On the weekends, we went off campus for activities like the St. Louis Zoo, the City Museum and Six Flags. I’ve lived in Missouri my whole life, but I had never visited these places before, so it was a lot of fun to experience St. Louis!
One of my favorite memories as a mentor was on the day of Costume Dodgeball, and all of the mentors got decked out in American flag gear. We had about an hour of down time and decided we didn't want our costumes to go to waste! What better way to show off your patriotic pride than standing outside and cheering for the USA? We made signs that said "Honk if you love America" and stood on the sidewalks for passing cars. It was so fun to see the looks on the drivers' faces when they saw us! There was so much honking and waving! I bet the mentees were embarrassed for us, but we really enjoyed singing and dancing and cheering. By the time we went for dodgeball, I was so worn out from jumping around that I could hardly even play!
I loved the activities we participated in, but my favorite part of Freshman Advantage, by far, was watching the students grow. As mentors, we got the chance to observe study habits, social interactions and each student’s interests throughout the month. Some students came in very shy and left as confident leaders! Some students came to WWU very uninterested but left as the most involved ones of the group! Students walked away from FA with the study skills, and true advantage of living as an independent college student. It was so rewarding to see what FA could actually do. When I see my mentees across campus now, I cannot help but smile because I am so proud of all their accomplishments!
Overall, the only thing I regret about Freshman Advantage is NOT going as a freshman! So for my closing comments, I would like to invite and encourage incoming freshmen to go out of your comfort zone and sign up for FA. It was so much fun being a mentor, so I cannot imagine how life changing it could be as a freshman. If you’d like more information about the program, check out it out at http://www.williamwoods.edu/admissions/freshman_advantage/index.asp.
Have a great day, and I hope to see you June 2014!