The Pioneer Scholars have been busy this year. The events and activities planned each Tuesday are aimed at transitioning first-generation students from high school to college. But what happens after freshman year? Here’s an overview of several activities from this past year that should ease the transition into sophomore year.
Registration Preparation: Same Dance Every Semester
Class registration is often a very overwhelming process for students. In the fall and spring semesters before registration begins, Pioneers has a small registration workshop during a Tuesday meeting. During this workshop academic advisors and Pioneer Peer Mentors explain how the registration process works each semester including: finding the time ticket, getting cleared to register from an advisor, searching the course schedule for available classes, following a program schema if a student has declared major, registering for classes once the time ticket opens, and determining if college credit was accepted into Bellarmine.
In the spring semester, the Bellarmine summer tuition grant and how to take summer classes at other institutions and get the credit transferred to Bellarmine are also discussed. In addition to academic advisors helping students understand the registration process, the upperclassman mentors play a large role in answering individual questions, giving recommendations on classes to take together, and how to get in contact with professors about majors and course selection. This workshop helps prepare students as they enter their sophomore year and become more independent in their registration.
Finals Preparation: Study Tips and Managing Stress
Finals is another stressful time for students. To help students prepare, the upperclassman mentors went around the room and told their own personal stories pertaining to finals. They shared tips that helped them relax and prepare during finals week and some even shared stories of “what not to do” so that the freshmen could learn from their experiences. Learning how to manage time leading up to finals, finding relaxing methods to distress, and learning about campus resources during finals week is helpful as students prepare for finals throughout their college career. On April 8, 2014 the Counseling Center will come to the Pioneer Scholars meeting and guide students through stress relief activities. The activities will give the students an outlet if they become overwhelmed during finals week!
A Visit from the Career Center: A Time to Think About the Future, Learn About Resources, and Reflect
Representatives from the Career Center discussed how to decide on a major and career path, how to get the experience of internships, how different personality types can lead to different types of careers, and how to use the Career Center. One of the activities the they planned was to have the students fill out the True Colors assessment and then break into their color groups to discuss why they were labeled that color, what jobs their personality would thrive in, careers in which their personality type would struggle, and how to communicate with coworkers of another color. The students really enjoyed this activity because it allowed for them to reflect on their own personality traits and how they might relate to a career field they are interested in. For some, it solidified their desire to be in a certain field and, for others, they began to question if another career path might suite their interests and personality better. Having the career center come in and talk to the Pioneer Scholars allowed them to start thinking about the future, to meet and understand the Career Center, and it encouraged them to self-reflect on the major and career path they are in the process of choosing.
As students move into their sophomore year, it is important for them to understand the importance of internships and observation hours. At the meeting, the Career Center helped to introduce the process of securing these experiences and how to prepare for them. The Career Center also stressed the importance of resume review and interview training and offered advice in these areas to students as they progress in their college careers.
A Common Theme: First Generation Faculty and Staff Share Experiences, Become Resources
Each year, first generation faculty and staff are invited to interact with the Pioneers. It is a good time for faculty and staff to tell stories and share experiences about the successes and failures in college that have shaped their paths both personally and professionally. As sophomores, the Pioneers can look to these faculty and staff members as identifiable resources at the university to help them navigate the system and enhance their success academically.
All past active members of the Pioneer Scholars Program were invited back to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating first-generation students. Graduates are presented with a cord to signify their accomplishments and to wear during the commencement ceremony. This event is a great way to connect the past Pioneer students with the freshmen Pioneer students, which builds camaraderie and community among all first-generation students and builds confidence among students that will help them persist towards graduation.