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July 2013

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6 Ways to Prepare for George Wythe College

By Elizabeth Smailes and Meghan Schulthies

This fall, thousands of new college freshmen will begin their undergraduate journey. At George Wythe College, or any college for that matter, we suggest that there are 5 types of incoming freshmen.  Knowing these types can help you or your child better prepare for college and George Wythe in particular. 

Type 5 is what we'll refer to as the Acted Upon student. Their allegiance is misplaced and so the choices they make are more about what will please others than what will help them to become who they were meant to be.  Often, they attend a particular school because it is chosen for them.  It might be the school their parents want them to go to, or the college their older sister is attending or where their mom is getting her Master’s degree. Unless they change, Type 5 student’s either quit or rebel when they get a taste of freedom or remain "acted upon" throughout their educational experience.

Type 4 is the Why am I Here? student.  They go to college, but they don’t really know why.  At George Wythe, such a student might fill his or her mentor meetings with “I don’t know what I’m doing here”, “Maybe I should go to art school”, or “Maybe I should go serve someone in Mexico or become an Australian tour guide”.  When study becomes hard, if a Type 4 doesn't rise to the occasion and push through, they will likely waste their time with doubting dialogue, reading only half of the assigned material or wanting to create their own syllabus using previously read works.

Type 3 is the What Should I Do? student.  Should I read this book?  Should I write this paper, should I change mentors? Should I study or work or play today?  The “what should I do” student will choose to submit to a mentor one day and the next go back to the drawing board.  They are unfocused and noncommittal, making it difficult to get a quality education, because they constantly vacillate back and forth. 

Type 2 is the Who am I? student.  They purposefully chose a particular school, they know why they are there and they know what they need to do.  For the Type 2 student at George Wythe, serious study and coming face to face with greatness propels them to self-examination.   Though "who am I?" is one of the hardest questions to answer, they realize that until they answer it they cannot become a Type 1 student.

Type 1 is the How Can I Repair the Universe? student.  With the addition of a clear understanding of who they are, the Type 1 student is ready for a leadership education and application. Such a student will do whatever it takes to get a world class education, this student is ready to study 8 hours a day and work a part-time or full-time job to pay their way through school. 

With proper preparation every student will have the Type 1 educational experience. Below are six suggested ways to prepare any student to become a Type 1 student.

1- Submit to a Mentor

In order to be a Type 1 student you must learn how to submit to a mentor.  This mentor could be a parent, a piano teacher, a religious leader or a supervisor at work. Some students get to college convinced they know more than their mentor and seek ways to justify not doing half of what he or she says.  While it is true that it’s your education, it’s also true that you need a guide. The greatest minds in history have all submitted to a mentor.

2-Attend Freshman Prep

Attending Freshman Prep is the best way we’ve found to prepare a Type 1 student.  Dr. Andrew Groft, Provost and Mentor at George Wythe College describes his experience with Freshman Prep students this way:

"Generally my incoming freshmen students who have attended Freshman Prep are more stable, more mature and ready to get to work compared to my other in-coming students.  The foundation laid in that summer course, I am convinced, helps students get much more out of their freshman year."

Unlike the on-campus classes, Freshman Prep is not focused on the material but on the tools the student needs to learn and retain the material. We have watched the Freshman Prep students educationally mature much faster than students that did not attend.

Freshman Prep is a 3-week course that gets the student away from home into a college environment.  Our topic of study is not history or economics, but the students themselves; how they learn, how they read, how they write and what they need from a mentor.  We do this through studying classics, addressing great questions, discussions, simulations and mentoring.  After taking the course students feel more secure in the knowledge of what they need and therefore are better able to communicate those needs to a mentor: and not because they were told but because they discovered for themselves.

One Freshman Prep student described her experience this way:

“Freshman Prep was a wonderful experience for me. Not only was I introduced to the teaching styles that are prominent at George Wythe, but it also helped me find my own individual learning style. Taking this class helped me feel ready to come to George Wythe and also helped me feel more confident as an incoming freshman.” Kristen M., Sophomore, Las Vegas, NV

The 2008 Freshman Prep seminar is being held July 7th through the 25th.  Registrations close June 20th.  For more information click here.

3- Have an Experience with the “Real World”

There is a vast difference of maturity between an incoming student who has never lived away from home, never had to provide for themselves financially, never had to really take FULL responsibility for their actions and one who has.  Having an experience with the “Real World” could mean getting a job, opening a business, paying rent while at home, paying your own car insurance, etc.  These actions foster an independent entrepreneurial attitude, which is essential to leadership education.

4- Write an Opinion or Editorial Piece to an Unfamiliar Audience

In mentoring pre-college students we’ve seen amazing growth occur through this simple yet difficult process. You have an opinion but can you express it?  A Type 1 student needs to be able to communicate their opinion to a general audience.

5- Teach

Individuals that make a difference teach either through word or action. There are some epiphanies that can only be gained through teaching. The most successful incoming students are those that have had a previous teaching experience, preferably one with a Core Phase audience.  Having taught, we study differently.  In a classroom environment, we more often come prepared to share with and teach fellow students.  The teaching environment is also a training ground for oral exams and dealing with criticism.  During examinations, students are sometimes asked to, “teach me something.”  Many freshmen experience difficulty converting facts and principles learned into a coherent instructional format.

6- Be alone

When one is thinking, writing or reading alone (even without music in the background) they develop their own opinions and receive their own epiphanies. Many in-coming freshmen are not able to be alone.  In order to be able to study eight hours a day they need to feel comfortable being in the corner of a library, in their room or on top of a mountain, alone with their books and their ideas. 

As the need for statesmen increases, the need for Type 1 students becomes essential.  If you’re planning on attending George Wythe or any other college in the future, prepare now by attending Freshman Prep or taking the necessary steps you need to be a Type 1 student.  The world needs great leaders but in order to be a great leader one must first BE a great student.


For more information on how you or your child can prepare for George Wythe College email

Mrs. Smailes is a Mentor and Ph.D. candidate at George Wythe College and directs the college's Freshman Prep Program.  Ms. Schulthies is a graduate student studying education and a Freshman Prep mentor.