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July 2013

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Experiencing Change

During July 2008 George Wythe College hosted the 3rd annual three-week Freshman Prep seminar.  What follows is the account of one seminar participant.

By Christopher Smith

Freshman Prep changed my life this summer, though not in the way I thought it would. I attended Freshman Prep because I thought it would teach me how to be a better student entering George Wythe. As it turned out, it taught me something even more important. I learned that the only way to be a great person is to learn to teach yourself and use your mentor in a way that will further your own talents and abilities.

My first week of Freshman Prep was easy, as long as I managed my study time well. I had one novel to read those first few days and the rest of the readings were short excerpts of other books, articles and poems. Two full days were dedicated to covering different learning environments and study methods, and throughout the subsequent three weeks we covered even more. It was more time than I initially wanted to spend, but I soon realized why I needed it. The time I was given was not meant completely for studying, and I was not told how to study; I was given suggestions that helped me learn where and how I study best.

The second week was a turning point in my experience. We had four books, one play and two excerpts to read that week, along with a lecture, a hike, night activities and random assignments we received during class. The thing that really changed me during this week was the teaching assignment we were given. We each had to give a ten to fifteen minute presentation using art to demonstrate our subject. I learned about a flaw in myself through that experience that seemed completely unrelated to the class—a flaw that has haunted me most of my life. Others had tried to make me aware of this flaw previously, but until that day I felt like I could do nothing to fix it. I must learn ways to refine my thinking and presenting so that I can avoid repeating mistakes I have made to this point in my life.

My third week was not so difficult as it was exhilarating, particularly the oral exams. One at a time, the mentors chose a student to stand and take their oral. When I was called up to take my oral I was not alone. I was paired with another student. The oral that I had anticipated took on a completely different twist and I had to become a team member to get a good grade. Once that thought passed through my head, I realized that orals are not about the grades. Orals are just simulations that test how I react under pressure. After I realized this, I began to treat it like I would if I were at an interview and not an oral exam. My partner and I had expressed very different views throughout Freshman Prep, and that did not change during our oral together. Our mentors challenged us by asking a question of her and then asking the same question of me. Even though we disagreed quite a bit, we used our differences to keep ourselves united instead of turning on one another. I learned through this that sometimes things don’t happen as we expect, and we sometimes have to adapt. This is one tool I can use in everyday life.

After all of this we had a debriefing. As we talked, I found out that what I learned during these three weeks was completely different from the student next to me. Every experience was unique. I was grateful I was able to learn more about myself, who I am, why I am here and what I should be doing. And I learned those things not because someone taught me them, but because I used the tools I was given to learn on my own.

The class helped me become a better student. It made me ask questions about myself that I would have later asked as a freshman anyway, but I'm better off knowing before I start my freshman year. Coming to this class changed my life because I had the time to focus on the process of learning. I believe I learned more about myself in those three weeks than I have learned in the last two years of my life. I highly recommend Freshman Prep to all those who intend to attend George Wythe College.


Christopher Smith was accepted as a freshman into the Fall 2008 on-campus undergraduate program and attended the Summer 2008 Freshman Prep seminar.  He will turn eighteen during the first week of the Fall semester.

Click here for more information about Freshman Prep and college preparation in general.  For more information about George Wythe University degree programs, click here.