Course’s goal to help ease students’ transition to university
“Can I ask you a sensitive question? How’d it go yesterday?”
University 101 instructor Dan Friedman asks his students this question as the last few of them trickle into the classroom.
“Eh, I don’t want to talk about it,” one replies, followed by echoes from others.
All 16 of them took the same psychology test the previous day. Friedman tells them they can talk about strategies for how to take that kind of exam so they can all do better next time.
That’s one of the benefits of this U101 class, which is one of about a dozen sections organized around a common course, like these students’ psychology class. The students in this class are also all residents in Columbia Hall.
“This class is so personal. … Bigger classes kind of dehumanize you in a way, and whenever you come into a class that’s so personal, you kind of start to feel like a part of something. You start to feel like an individual again instead of part of a unit.”
— Iva Reed, first-year biology and psychology student
“My favorite part is it’s a lot less (stressful). I like this class because it’s not as pressured. I mean, it’s work, but it’s not (like other classes.) … I feel like this class has helped out a lot getting used to the university.”
— Katie Edwards, first-year business management student
More than 3,800 students are enrolled in 212 sections of the course, representing more than three-quarters of the first-year student population.
Friedman’s students say the organization, size and teaching style of the class have helped them bond with one another and feel comfortable participating in class.
“I like it. I’m pretty comfortable in this class,” said Iva Reed, a first-year biology and psychology student in Friedman’s class. “I can participate in it without feeling awkward.”
All the students participate on this day in class, which includes an around-the-room sharing session called “I’ve got news for ya …” For about 10 minutes, Friedman leads the students in this discussion about what’s going on in their lives.
One student shares her excitement over being selected for the Dance Marathon Morale Team; another laments the difficulties of procrastinating on work for a self-paced class (“This could be a good learning experience,” Friedman says); another shares her frightening encounter with a cockroach in her dorm room.
Friedman, who is also the overall director of U101 Programs, conducts his class with an energy that engages the students. His objectives for the class are the same as every other U101 section: to help students develop successful academic habits, to help them connect with university resources and traditions and to teach them overall values of citizenship, diversity and wellness.
Each U101 class is unique, said Tricia Kennedy, the program coordinator for peer leadership for U101 Programs. But they all have a common goal for students: “helping them find their place,” Kennedy said.
“It’s that connection to Carolina that helps them transition smoothly” into college life, she said. “It’s really become part of the institutional culture at this point.”