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In the United States, our higher education system is diverse in terms of public vs. private, large or small in size, secular or religious. For students this diversity equals an opportunity to find the right fit school of their dreams. Most students will spend 2-4 years inside an institution of higher learning. The student affairs departments play an important role in helping students achieve knowledge, awareness and skills to mold them into productive citizens.
First, students need to know what their strength and weaknesses are during the summer prior to enrolling at a higher learning institution.
The Orientation and New Student Transition department should administer strength test to help students figure out what majors will be good fits based on their interests and strengths. As I recruit on the road and speak to seniors, most students share their interest in the majors they wish to pursue. The most common issues I find are that some students want to pursue the medical field as Biology/Pre-Medicine track or any of the Engineering programs.
Unfortunately, the students do not have strong academic foundations in mathematics, science, or critical thinking. By administering a test before they enroll into college will help students make a transition into a different major before spending an entire semester failing as a pre-med student. They will be more successful academically if we ensure they start with the correct major from the beginning.
During their time in college students should gain academic knowledge to help them become problem solvers. While in college, we tend to rely on the memorization game.
Without a doubt, this approach can work in first- or second-year courses, but as we progress there will be an expectation to think critically. Academic advisors and faculty need to remind students that the curriculum is set to help them master the concepts instead of learning it just for a test. We would want our students to succeed at their medical school interview or a potential job interview. Therefore, I feel it is valuable to teach our students to gain strong academic knowledge and apply it critically throughout their time in our institutions.
In addition, during their time in college students need to gain awareness of other cultures. The student body needs to have exposure to multicultural activities though organizations. This exposure will help our students to be empathetic and sensitive to the points of views of different cultures around the globe and within their communities. Most universities have International Student Centers and an office of Multicultural Affairs that helps connect students among themselves but also those who are interested in engaging with other ethnic cultures. The roles of the Multicultural Affairs and International Student Centers is to assist students by planning as many events such as dance and music shows, banquets showcasing the different cuisine, lectures to discuss the importance of diversity, etc. We are preparing our students to be part of a global economy so it’s extremely important to expose them to as many cultures during their time at our institutions.
Finally, there is nothing more significant to any student’s success than acquiring skills to connect with people. Sometimes we affiliate people skills with the ideas of being liked by others. That is not entirely what people skills entails. We want to teach our students to communicate with others, but we also want to teach them the importance of maintaining and building meaningful relationships. At the end what sets us all apart from the rest is our ability to make deep connections with those we meet. College students upon graduation will be require by their employers to perform tasks in teams. The teams will be made up of people from different genders, race, culture, religion, education, sexual orientation, age, etc. Our students will only acquire teamwork and people skills if they are expose to diversity within our campuses. Our faculty can help promote teamwork and diversity by assigning as many group project as possible throughout the semester. Another example, during welcome week, the office of new student transition should attempt to mix the students by keeping in mind diversity. We do not want our students to isolate themselves from diversity by deciding to live, study, and spend time outside of the classroom with only people who are like them. For that reason, we need to make sure they make friendships with those who are different before they attend their first class.
Every department in our institutions plays a vital role in the success of our future leaders. We function as the organelles within a cell that keep the unit alive and thriving. During my time in admissions, I’ve learned to appreciate faculty, advisors, housing staff, new student transition, financial aid staff, our cleaning crew because everyone of our jobs is making a tremendous difference in a student who probably never though he or she could make it to college.
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