By Gretchen E. Mullin Sawicki
September signals the month of new beginnings for me much more so than January does. I am certain that I associate this with the beginning of a fresh new semester, the start of new classes and new professors, and the anticipation of all that the year will bring. I vividly recall walking over the small bridge and up the hill to my first college class at Western University, the campus buzzing with students with crisp backpacks, a little anxiety in their eyes but a dollop of hope on their faces, too.
September can be scary because of this newness; meeting new people and living up to academic and social expectations, which are both personal and often externally pressured. It’s not surprising, then, that September is also the month that most students decide they are not ready for college. In fact, most make up their minds in the first three weeks of classes that they want to give up.
So what do we do at NHTI? We make sure that September is packed full of connection and care. And, this is not a subtle month; it’s hyper-vigilant with you seeing and feeling and knowing that we care because care is emotional. Managing fears is a primary reason that community colleges have retention struggles. Our students are smart and dedicated but can have self-doubt. This self-doubt is the primary reason they quit. Addressing these emotional needs is just as important as feeding intellectual nourishment to mitigate the 3-week drop-out syndrome.
We care for you, our students, in two ways: fun and fact.
- Fun is crucially important because we need to create intentional activities where it’s easy to make friends, build healthy social lives, and join affiliations/groups/clubs. September is about showcasing our clubs, making sure contact information is on our website and clubs are easy to join, especially in our virtual world. It’s also about ensuring you collaborate with each other in the classroom through the curiosity of the curricula.
- Fact is making sure you know about all of the support services that our college provides: tutoring, coordinated care model for advising, counseling services, health and wellness, leadership programs, our LynC connector/mentor program, reading lab, Academic Center for Excellence, Innovation Lab, and library services. Getting the word out about this portfolio of care services is in super-drive mode in September – it has to be because fact partnered with fun chips away at self-doubt. You need people and you need your networks to help build your confidence muscles.
September is a month of care hyperbole. It is about welcome and belonging. When we say “You belong here,” we really mean it. We can help you overcome any self-doubt and blossom into your academic identities with a little kindness, understanding and big helpings of joy and services, too.