Linfield’s Colloquium program, designed to help first-year students ease into college life, has undergone several changes within the last year, including revisions to the final project and the Common Reading Essay and greater recognition of the students who help lead the groups.
Colloquium is a course taught by a faculty member and a student peer adviser that first-year students are required to take during the fall semester. The course provides guidance and support to students as they transition into college. There are 24 groups, spread across different major departments.
This year, students are required to take a faculty member outside of their program to lunch and interview them as part of their final project, said Katharine Holm, lead peer adviser.
“The lunch interview came out of the idea that students need to get to know faculty on a more personal level,” Holm said.
Holm oversees all of the peer advisers and facilitates conversation between peer advisers and the Office of Academic Advising.
In addition to the new requirements for the final project, some of the course’s assignments were changed to make them more valuable. Others were taken out of the program. Peer advisers also now lead a structured reflection session, a five-minute free-write followed by a discussion, Holm explained.
Despite this year’s changes, Janet Peterson, interim director of academic advising and coordinator of Colloquium, said that the most significant change to the program was the addition of the Summer Common Reading in 2006.
“The Summer Common
Reading aims to provide students with an opportunity to connect through a shared intellectual experience,” Peterson explained via email. “[The program] provides students, first year and transfer, with an opportunity to have a shared or common dialogue.”
Upon arriving to Linfield, students read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. The book follows the life of Lacks, an impoverished, African-American cancer patient whose cells were used without her permission or knowledge for scientific research.
During the semester, students are required to go to one cultural or intellectual event and one Common Reading event that relate back to the book.
“We like them to connect what events they went to and how they impacted everything,” Holm said.
To go with the reading, students were also required to write a paper relating each of the Linfield Curriculum’s Mode of Inquiries or L.C.s to points in the book.
“We wanted to show how the book relates to the L.C.s and give examples of their goals,” Holm explained.
“The L.C. assignment helped connect the point of the book to school,” freshman Venessa Vigil said.
However, in the future, the program should consider using books to match majors, like the Colloquium faculty and peer advisers do, Vigil added.
Freshman Regan Cox agreed, saying “my adviser is the same major as me so that’s helpful. She helps me figure out what classes I should take.”
The Office of Academic Advising also incorporated more guest speakers into the program this fall. Representatives from the International Programs Office, the counseling center, career hub and student government talked with each Colloquium group.
“We wanted to expand the focus of Colloquium, not just to academics but to college life,” Holm explained. “We want experts to come in and talk to students.”
The Colloquium program was also extended farther into the fall and will include a couple of sessions in the spring semester.
“The sessions in the spring are like reunion sessions. We just want to let students know we are still here as resources,” Holm said.
Senior Haydn Nason said acting as a resource for students is what she enjoys most.
“I look forward to doing it,” Nason said. “I just like being able to help students through difficult situations that I wish I had someone there for when I was a freshman.”
Nason said she was approached about being a peer adviser by Susan Sivek, assistant professor of mass communication.
Sivek and Nason oversee 19 students. Their group is for students interested in mass communication or computer science.
Nason was one of five peer advisers who have been recognized for outstanding work so far this semester. Each week, faculty, peer advisers and Colloquium students can nominate a group leader for the Peer Adviser of the Week Award.
“I love Linfield and want students to like Linfield as much as I do,” Nason said. “I want to make sure students have fun and want to be there. My Colloquium experience wasn’t quite like that.”
A couple weeks ago, Nason planned a spaghetti feed and volleyball social event for her group of students.
Each Colloquium group is allotted $100 from the Office of Academic Advising to fund a social event.
Other Colloquium groups had a combined barbecue at the Hewlett-Packard Apartments on campus. Some groups walked to Serendipity’s and Alf’s for ice cream.
“Colloquium helped with finding friends, especially during the first week of school,” Vigil said. “I look forward to Mondays to see everyone.”
Peterson said the Colloquium curriculum will be up for review by a committee consisting of faculty, academic advising and at least one student at the end of the course.
“[It] will be updated to align with the college-wide strategic plan,” Peterson said.