I had the opportunity to eat lunch with a prospective student for a little bit yesterday along with a few other McDaniel students. When he asked us what one of our favorite things about McDaniel is, one of the first things we all said was the professors. And then we spent the next several minutes gushing about how fantastic they were.
Professors at McDaniel are truly exceptional in so many ways, and they’re one of the reasons I came here. Most of our professors are very well educated, but they are so much more than the degrees they hold and the excellent institutions they came from.
Our professors are wonderful because they care about their students both on an academic and personal level. They are truly great teachers and great people. One of the girls I ate lunch with yesterday pointed out that professors are almost always readily available during their office hours. But if a student needs to meet with a professor but his or her office hours conflict with the student’s schedule, the professor will schedule another time to meet with the student. Our professors are also very understanding when students have extenuating circumstances, and I know this to be true from my own experience. I had some hard times in my personal life last semester, and my professors were able to give me the flexibility I needed to continue to succeed in my classes while dealing with my personal needs.
Professors at McDaniel are just as wonderful outside of the classroom. I’ve had some fantastic conversations with my professors about things barely or not at all relating to any of my classes. McDaniel professors also enjoy opening up their homes to students for celebrations and fun activities. My First Year Seminar (FYS) professor invited my FYS to her house to carve pumpkins last fall, which was super fun! It was especially neat since some of my classmates had never carved pumpkins before. She also took our class out to ice cream a couple of times.
I’ve never had a professor at McDaniel I didn’t like. In fact, there are several professors on campus I like who I’ve never even had for a class, and if they don’t know my name (which many do), they still smile and wave hello in passing. McDaniel professors are truly phenomenal people, and I am quite fortunate to have them in my life.
Believe it or not, upperclassmen are a big part of the First Year Program. Once you begin filling everything out to start your Freshman year you fill out a questionnaire picking your top three FYS choices. Your First Year Seminar (FYS) is designed to be a class that will prepare you for all other college level classes. There are also a wide range of interesting classes that can be taken. For example you can choose classes like “From Grim to Disney”, “Identifying BS”, “Theatre Appreciation”, “The Bard: The Books and the Boards”, “From Chaos to Compromise”, and “World Music Survey”. Each professor or the classes chooses an upperclassman as their Peer Mentor for that class. This year, I got the honor of being Elizabeth van den Berg’s Peer Mentor for “The Bard: The Books and the Boards” which is the FYS all about reading and performing Shakespeare. She and Dr. Corey Wronski-Mayersak team teach this course in order to not only give the first year students a chance to explore the writings of Shakespeare, but also to allow them to perform it and see it in a way that it was originally intended to be studied by the masses.
Being a Peer Mentor means we come to campus early for training, help our FYS students through Orientation, help them with the transition into college as a whole, and act as a guide if needed in the FYS class. Training was four days of talking about all the resources on campus that are useful, and learning the skills we need to be great mentors for our students. Freshman Move-In Day was so exciting. Other than the fact I had to be up and ready to move boxes at 8am, I was excited to see all the new faces on the Hill. After a long morning of going up and down the stairs getting all the freshmen moved in, we finally were able to meet our mentees. It was such an exciting moment every time I’d see one of my mentees walking towards me in Red Square with a huge smile on his/her face. After we all gathered we were able to take some time to get to know each other. My group clicked right away. Most FYS’s have about 15 students to every Peer Mentor, but with the way my class is set up, I only had 5 mentees, which made it super easy for all of us to get to know each other. From there I was their leader through all the orientation events. I think they were totally sick of me by the end of the last event on Sunday night. The Monday classes started and everyone was back and getting settled into the new semester.
Throughout the entire year, I will be taking care of my mentees to make sure their Freshman year is going as wonderfully as possible. We get to stay as their Peer Mentor even after this semester when the FYS class is finished. And personally, I know that no matter what year they are in, even if they are seniors, I will still be willing to help them with anything. My Peer Mentor from freshman year is no longer at school but I still keep in pretty good contact with her and she still helps me out when I need some Peer Mentor and First Year Program as a whole is such a wonderful experience and keeps getting better every year with the feedback from the students we receive all the time. It is such a strong program and a wonderful way to keep the first year students’ spirits high during the sometimes difficult transition from high school to college. I am very proud to be part of such a wonderful experience.
~”I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” –Walt Disney~