By Jorge Ambacher '20
Imagine looking over your class choices as an incoming freshman and seeing subjects like How Rock ‘n’ Roll Changed America; Zombie U: College, Identity Construction, and The Walking Dead; The Bermuda Triangle; or And 1, Or No Foul? For Better or For Worse: How Basketball, Michael Jordan and Nike Changed the World.
These are just a few of the choices the 2020 freshman class was able to select from in a new and innovative approach to introducing freshman to college life known as the Freshman Seminar.
The classes, which meet every Tuesday and Thursday morning, are not just for fun, however. They serve a serious purpose.
With the future in mind, McMurry is aiming to not only provide its students with the best preparation for the later years of college life, but also the best preparation and education possible for careers and post McMurry life.
“With the help of many faculty and staff members at McMurry, we created the Freshman Seminar to best help and improve first year experience for students and enable them to use this class as a catalyst in the years to come,” said Dr. Cindy Martin, co-director of the First Year Experience at McMurry.
During Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR), incoming freshman had the opportunity to pick from a variety of topics, enabling them to pick the best fit for them.
With so many subjects to choose from, the incoming class of 2020 was excited to match up with their ideal class, pertaining to their different tastes of music, sports, academics, religion and economics.
“My Freshman Seminar class is How Rock ‘n’ Roll Changed America and I really enjoy it,” said Lauren Moore ’20. “Being a fan of rock music, I really enjoy learning about the history of rock, all while in the process of helping me develop the [studying] skills I’ll need throughout college.”
Recent informal polling shows students are happy with their freshman seminar and report that they are satisfied with the topics assigned to them, learning and engaging in an intellectual college setting. Not only are students satisfied, but the professors teaching these courses are as well.
“As an administrator, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to teach, but when I do, I really enjoy it,” says Dr. James Hunt, vice president of Academic Affairs at McMurry and current Freshman Seminar Professor of “Waiting for Superman:” Educational Reform in America. Dr. Hunt has prior teaching experience in the middle and elementary school setting and is part of the First Year Experience committee.
“It’s also exciting to work with first year students because college is new to them and there’s a lot of learning that goes on in the first semester,” concluded Dr. Hunt. “Being a part of that with students and helping them understand that the thinking they will do in college is different than high school.”
According to the pamphlet created by the First Year Experience committee, the program goals for the Freshman Seminar are: the development of a network of relationships that prepares students for academic and personal success emphasizing a life of leadership and service, provide students the opportunity to explore relevant issues that include diverse ideas, provide students time and guidance to reflect deeply and intentionally about the roles and purposes of their education at McMurry, using intentional reflection as a method of helping students in their journey to self-authorship, and an introduction to McMurry University’s history, traditions and Core Values and how it relates to civic engagement and service.
“My hope and McMurry’s hope is to build a culture that students belong to at McMurry,” concluded Dr. Martin, “and while doing so, we will provide them with support, and help them think deeper beyond the surface level by introducing them to new and broader ideas.”