This is a posting from Fresh@News, Villanova's e-mail newsletter for parents and friends of the class of 2012. See below for information about subscribing or unsubscribing from this service. This time, instead of interviewing one of our staff members at Villanova, Fresh@News interviews a member of the class of 2012, to give our readers some sense of how one student has experienced the year so far. To protect her privacy, we have not given our student’s real name, so we’ll just call her Ellen Student.
Fresh@News: Thanks so much for agreeing to talk to us. Can you tell us just a little about what brought you to Villanova?
Ellen Student: I decided on because I felt that at Villanova there was a spirit of community. A lot of people – students and faculty – seemed excited to be here and appeared to want to help make college a great experience. It also seemed to me from what I had heard that it was a place where I could get involved in different ways. I’m not an athlete, but just as an example it seemed to me that at Villanova an athlete wasn’t just going to be doing nothing but athletics, but might also be involved in service or student government.
F@N: So now you have been here for almost seven months; has it worked out?
ES: Actually it has worked out very much as I hoped. Like all of us, I’ve had ups and downs, but all in all it has been a great experience.
F@N: Let’s start with the academic side. How has that gone?
ES: I love my classes. They’ve been extremely interesting and I have learned a lot. I also appreciate that I have small classes (my largest classes had only 34 students). The classes have also been very interactive, which I appreciate; the teachers really seem to want to get to know you and to hear your opinion.
F@N: What were some of the biggest challenges on the academic side?
ES: Let me first explain that I have some learning disabilities, especially with reading. What works best for me is to get electronic versions of my assigned texts and listen to them, rather than reading them, so I do a lot of my reading by listening to it in a funny computer voice. As you can imagine, this takes a lot longer than reading the assignments, so my homework and studying takes a lot of time. Fortunately, I have gotten great support from Villanova’s Office of Learning Support Services. They have been incredibly helpful in helping me get copies of the texts and in many other ways. My teachers have also been very supportive. I actually did pretty well my first semester, and, in some ways, there has been a bright side. Everyone always talks a lot about the importance of learning time-management skills in college, but this was doubly important for me to get organized to get my work done. In the end, I’d have to say that the challenge helped me learn a lot about myself.
F@N: What are some of the classes that you enjoyed?
ES: So many of them were interesting. I had some advance placement when I started so I am now taking a few upper division classes, and they are really fascinating. But I would have to say I have most enjoyed my Augustine and Culture Seminar (ACS) classes, which is our freshmen humanities seminar here at Villanova. In addition to reading some really interesting texts and having great conversations, we’ve also done some terrific projects. Last semester our class made a website, integrating our reading of St. Augustine’s Confessions with some of the Augustinian art and symbolism on the campus. There are a lot of images from St. Augustine’s life on campus, and we all walk by them every day, so it was great to see how they actually relate to the books we were studying. This semester we are participating in a remarkable project organized by Catholic Relief Services (http://crs.org/peacebuilding/). We post electronic journals every week, along with students from other universities, and the journals touch on themes that we are also studying in our class. So we get to comment on the thoughts of authorities in the field, but also to dialogue with other students around the country.
F@N: You said that you were attracted to Villanova because of the sense of community here. Has it lived up to your expectations?
ES: It has been fantastic. First, I am in one of Villanova’s learning communities. So that means that all of my ACS classmates live in the same Hall with me. Over the year I’ve gotten incredibly close to my classmates. I’ve made a lot of friends in the building, but we all help each other with our work as well.
F@N: And what about activities?
ES: What I had heard was that at a lot of schools, you couldn’t get too involved as a freshman, but Villanova isn’t like that. So I tried out for Blue Key, and I was accepted. This was a big break for me, since it is hard to get into Blue Key as a freshman. (My advice to people who didn’t get in as freshmen: try again next year!) Everyone knows that Blue Key offers the campus tours, but it offers much more than that. We have other activities that help us get to know each other and the community. We even have Bingo Nights, where we go to the Monastery and get to know some of the retired Augustinian priests on campus. I also got involved with Student Government and that has been rewarding. Again, there is a lot to do for students who are ready to reach out.
F@N: What about the adjusting to life away from home. How has that gone?
ES: For me, the big challenge, as I said, was academic. I’ve had some independent experiences before I came to college, so leaving my family, even though I miss home a lot, wasn’t as difficult for me as it has been for some of my friends. But the point is, we all go through adjustments and we try to help each other.
F@N: Here at Fresh@News we always conclude each interview by asking our respondent what advice they have for parents. Here is your chance to tell over 1,700 parents and friends of the freshman class what you think they should do.
ES: Wow, that’s a challenge. How about sending more cookies to the girls on my hall, they are pretty good about sharing. Seriously, though, maybe the thing for us all to remember is that there is a big tension that we all face. On the one hand, all of our parents want us to explore new things, and have new experiences. But, at the same time, they miss us just as much as we miss them. So maybe next fall, I’ll talk to my parents about going on a service trip instead of coming home for fall break, and that will be hard for us as a family. So it is always a balancing act, and sometimes students want a little more independence than our parents are comfortable with just then. So I guess my advice is for parents to remember that finding the right balance is as hard for us as it is for them, and just because we don’t spend as much time with them as they might ideally like, it doesn’t mean we don’t miss them and love them just as much.
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