09 May Overcoming New Student Fears Through Connections
Being a member of the community at the University of Minnesota Duluth, I recently noticed that there were and still are many students who are in the “neutral zone” because they are unsure about being bold and friendly. Moving to college is an overwhelming time filled with new experiences. By the time I meet with the students in my RockGroup, many of them seem lost and confused. The students look around at all of the new faces, including mine, and can get too overwhelmed by the process and be resistant toward joining activities. One student in particular had a hard time adjusting to the college life because he was so uncomfortable.
This particular student reacted nervously at first to my efforts to make him feel welcomed, however, he seemed to open up as the week went on. As a matter of fact, one day he came to RockGroup early to talk to me about his struggles at college. I was glad that he felt comfortable enough to talk to me about what was going on and I was then able to help him work out his issues. After he opened up to me, he was noticeably more involved. This involvement helped this student because by the end of the same week that he had come to talk to me, he had established a solid group of friends. Now I see him from time to time and he always voices how he is doing well while enjoying his college experience.
Just as I was able to make this student feel connected and involved by being available to him, I also take other steps to ensure all the students in my RockGroup feel connected and involved at their University. For example, I always get to my meeting spot at least fifteen minutes before my RockGroup is supposed to meet. This is a great way to be available to students who need help with anything or would just like to have a conversation with me one on one. Another way in which RockGroup meetings provide students with a sense of connection and involvement is that I make sure I answer students’ questions and concerns. I have students write down their questions so that they can be anonymous.
I also use the meeting times to help students build connections with each other. A great example of this occurred during my first RockGroup meeting, when I used an icebreaker called Connections. This is where one student says something about them and if someone has that thing in common, they link arms. The person who linked arms then shares something about themselves. At the end of the game, everyone is in a big circle, which shows that all the students have things in common. I use this activity to share that we are all in the same boat and that we are all having many emotions about college.
This post was written by Katie Cleveland. Katie is a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth seeking a degree with a focus toward teaching communication arts and literature. She is a Team Leader, or RockStar, at the University of Minnesota Duluth.