Pre-orientation programs are beginning to prepare for the class of 2022. Last month, FOCUS co-ordinators announced that they will partner with Tisch College to encourage continued community service after the program ends, and the Office for Student Success and Advising is developing a new program called BEAST for first generation students. It is fantastic that pre-orientation programs are moving toward inclusivity and finding new ways to expand connections and experiences for students. Additionally, as Tufts expands upon the programs important for the social success of incoming students, holistic guidance on available academic resources should also be provided to first-years during orientation week.
Academic resources are clearly underutilized. People either don’t know that certain services exist or don’t know how to use them. Tisch Library offers a plethora of tools to comb through and access huge amounts of data, JumboSearch being the most widely known. But assets like JumboSearch are not introduced during orientation. Though deans of different schools hold information sessions for students early in the semester, the sessions’ content is mostly superficial, focusing on a general guideline of what courses to take rather than how to be successful in classes. Most structured guidance is provided through introductory classes, focused on the pertinent academic field of the class. If so, this means that people who don’t take these classes are placed at a natural disadvantage in writing academic papers in “higher tier” classes, which require extensive and good quality research.
Moreover, as the majority of undergraduates at Tufts explore different academic fields, some will benefit more from research methodologies, but all would gain from early guidance on achieving academic success. Guidance not only includes directing students to resources and teaching them how to use them, but also advising them on good research preparation habits and time management skills. Programs like Tufts Academic Mentors (TAM), the Academic Resource Center (ARC), and Time Management and Study Strategies (TM&SS) are more than just acronyms, they are extremely useful entities and should be promoted to all students, first-years especially. Even if it’s the student’s responsibility to utilize the information at their disposal, it is the university’s responsibility to notify students of the tools they have to make such decisions.
It is important to inculcate the benefits of learning research skills as well. Often, incoming students retain a high-school mentality, which creates a false impression that simple memorization will lead to academic success. Many Tufts students did not have to strain much to succeed in high school. Once we get to Tufts, we are not only held to a higher standard, but there is a certain expectation of zest for learning that was not present in high school. First-year students should be made aware of, and be trained in, the appropriate resources to make the most of their academics here at Tufts and beyond — not because we have to, but because we want to.