It seems that the effects of COVID-19 have affected every part of our lives for the past two years. In particular, many students feel fatigued from staring at the screen for hours on end, taking tests online and then spending hours doing homework in the same room. It often seemed like everyone was confined to one room for a majority of the school week. Students rarely saw teachers in person and classroom learning was a relic of the past.
Although excited to begin in-person learning again, freshmen entering a new school may have felt apprehensive about what this entailed: taking tests in person and moving around campus, instead of just clicking a Zoom link. This year, Siena has implemented an academic program designed to help students back into the weekly schedule that was last seen nearly two years ago. Because it is newly implemented for the Class of 2025, many campus members who are not freshmen may be wondering to themselves: How does this new class work?
Siena 101 is an online course that is composed of modules that are to be completed every Friday, all to help freshmen ease into their college experience. It can be a challenging period between managing work, making friends and finding time to decompress at a new school. Siena 101 aims to provide a method for support that freshmen—even amidst a pandemic—want and need. Each task involves getting to know the community and college life better: these range from things like attending an on-campus event or completing an informative activity.
Each freshman has a wide range of events to choose from in fulfilling the program’s requirements. Are you interested in books? Many award-winning authors are scheduled to come to campus to give lectures. Do you like discussing contemporary issues, both nationally and around the world? Siena hosts conversations about these issues both relating to how they affect students and the larger world. Regardless of interest or one’s schedule, there will be an event that allows students to know Siena better and learn a lot in the process.
Most of the time, Siena 101 tasks do not even require leaving a dorm room or study space. Rather, these online program modules assigned to students must usually be completed by the end of the week. They cover an array of topics like stress and time management, academic support on campus and managing your CAPP report. As someone who stepped on campus with many questions about life as a freshman at Siena, having so many answers at my fingertips has helped my experience be as stress-free as possible. Just knowing that there is support, either online or in-person, is very valuable as the year goes on and more questions arise.
Another facet of the program is the Peer Mentor and Siena 101 Instructor meetings. Upon arrival, each student is paired with both a student mentor and a faculty member specially assigned to have conversations with them about their workload, stress levels, feeling about transitioning and on-campus engagement. Coming out of a time where a blue screen isolated interactions and traditional support systems, seemingly bygone conversations like these are incredibly valuable!
For as long as anyone can remember, homework has been a quintessential part of the college experience. Naturally, in addition to their other responsibilities, all college students have the daunting task of keeping track of a whirlwind of assignments. To make this process more organized, Siena 101 students are given a planner to record daily homework and schedules in. The calendar format also allows them to see potential scheduling conflicts and how each day is best organized. Through the year, as the pages fill, the planner will become a diary that symbolizes the return to in-person academic life. As the pages of the planner bend, crease and fill with ink, Siena 101 students will be more accustomed to their new home and the college journey!