“It is more than just common sense.”

The first short answer question on my Freshman Seminar exam featured a quote from a student who had just finished their first-year college course or as we like to call it here at KSU, the Freshman Seminar. The student stated that the class was nothing more than common sense and that common sense is just “something you know”. After reading the last word to the question, I sat back in my seat and realized that student was me just six weeks ago, not knowing what exactly a freshman seminar was or what it could do for you.

My first semester of college, I experienced an unexpected medical emergency that nearly pushed me to withdraw from my classes. Why didn’t I? I was enrolled in one of the greatest first-year programs at KSU, and I had the privilege of having a professor who, not only understood but wanted his students to get more out of the class than just a grade. During our first class session, he asked my classmates and me to find our purpose for attending college, and when he asked for my purpose, my response to him was “to show people that you can do anything regardless of what is thrown in your way.” Remembering back to our first class session allowed me to be motivated again and remember that I still had a purpose to stand by. And although I was physically hurt, giving up on myself would have hurt me more internally in the end.

After the next six weeks of our first session, I had evolved into a completely different student. I was setting time aside to actually study and do homework. I was learning how to critically think beyond the basic levels of learning. I was learning how to communicate and establish relationships with my professors. I was using on-campus resources as well as those provided online. I was writing a new to-do list every day with new tasks. I was slowly becoming an actual college student with real responsibilities and shedding out of my freshman skin.

Freshman means a fresh start. That means new everything: new environment, new friends, new teachers, and new academic demands. Don’t stress though. Your freshman seminar is there to serve its purpose and help guide you along the way. Although they differ from college to college, a freshman seminar or first-year program typically involves personal mentoring by a professor in an intimate class setting. At Kennesaw State University, the Freshman Seminar program involves first-year or transfer students, connecting academically and socially in an interactive classroom where the student to teacher ratio is about 10 to 1. The faculty member makes his or her main goal to help their students develop a sense of belonging to the university and other communities and to inherit the skills that are essential to academic success in college.

It is important that universities adopt a first-year program that will effectively show students why the class is not limited to just common sense. Many students believe a freshman seminar serves no purpose and is just a waste of a class. If that were true, do you believe universities would make it a mandatory course for ALL incoming freshmen to have on their schedules? Think about it. The class is “just common sense”, right? Wrong. It is more than just common sense. Freshmen seminar programs give students the chance to adjust to their social and academic transitions. Freshman seminars push students to expand their creativity, learn how to express themselves in and out of the classrooms, and activate their independent thinking skills, which are all necessary in order for students to meet the high expectations of the university and the world. Freshman seminars challenge students to break out of the old high school cycle that they’ve been following for four years and help them transition into a new cycle that will not only guarantee and promote academic success in college but also promote success in the real world after college.

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