Am I Crazy to Think This a Stroke of Genius?

So, those of you who know me know that I am not just an Academic Advising Director, but also that I am a string bass player and music educator. I was recently blown away by a practice that a local university is using when it comes to First-Year residential assignments, and I learned of it from one of my students.

One of my private string bass students is heading off to her first year of college, and her room mate in her first year is going to be a sophomore. This blew me away! (**Disclaimer** though I’m a director of academic advising, I’m a novice when it comes to ResLife practices). I was blown away because my university segregates first-years–don’t get me wrong, I’m not passing judgement, I’ve simply not seen this done before. It just dawned on me that, from a First-Years Transition and Student Engagement perspective, this seems like a stroke of genius. I mean seriously, could you really create a better peer mentoring relationship?

Again, I haven’t spent nearly the time studying current practices in residential life and student affairs as I have on academic advising issues. And because of this, I’m sure there are all kinds of things I’m missing in my very cursory observation. I was just blown away by the possibilities…I wonder what you, my colleagues and students, might think about this approach.

So, hit me with it…lemme know what you think

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About Art

I've been a higher education professional for over 15 years and an Academic Advising administrator for the past eight of those. I have a background in exploratory student advising and have spent a great deal of time guiding students through contemplating their personal college-to-career pathways. I've published, presented, and consulted on the intersection of social media and academia and am a firm believer in social media's power as a tool for engagement rather than solely information delivery. I've worked at public and private institutions as well as 2-year colleges and 4-year universities. I believe in Academic Advising as a teaching and learning activity, that learner-centered education is the key to students' academic success, and that as long as we keep students' individual goals and success at the center of our decision-making process, the problem of college-level student attrition can be solved.
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3 Responses to Am I Crazy to Think This a Stroke of Genius?

  1. Paul Cox says:

    Like you, Art, I’m an advisor and not sure of the all the possible ResLife implications, but I do think it’s a great idea. Given the right mentors, both stand to gain a lot from such a relationship. Sophomores – seniors serving as mentors to first year students is a model used in several areas, most notably suplemental instruction, at our institution and it generally works well.

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  2. If you think that genius check out The Collegiate Way http://collegiateway.org/
    Residential Colleges and the Renewal of Campus Life

    We’ve had Honors houses for the past decade that are about 25% Sr, 25% Jrs, 25% Soph, and 25% Freshman….
    This fall, next week (yikes!), we are starting a new endeavor of opening a true “residential college” with about 50% freshmen, 45% upperclassmen, 4% transfer students, 1% graduate students and a faculty couple (and their dog, Liam) in residence. We are excited and nervous at the same time. http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2010/09/090110-dsa-rescollege.html

    Wish us luck!
    The 2nd phase opens up in 2012 with another residential college (open to the greater student body, not just Honors) and another faculty in residence!

    Cheers, Christina

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  3. One of the barriers is the capacity of on-campus housing at many colleges and universities can only handle the incoming freshmen class and a few (but not many) upperclassmen.

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