An Early Dissection of College Life

Biology Boot Camp Prepares Incoming Freshmen for Fall Semester

The transition from high school to college can be challenging. From getting acclimated to living with a complete stranger, to navigating campus, to figuring out effective study habits, there’s a lot for incoming freshmen to think about. But the University of Missouri-Kansas City offers several solutions.

As the 2017–18 school year dawns, academic departments – along with the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management – provide incoming students the opportunity to dive in early and get a head start on adjusting to college life.

One example: 96 incoming freshmen are attending the UMKC School of Biological Sciences’ Biology Boot Camp. The program is designed to help incoming students, many with health profession aspirations, have a smooth transition to the expectations of college. The week-long camp “is similar to the academic year but intensified times 11,” said Dr. Aaron Reed, Associate Teaching Professor and Director of Course Development and Assessment in the School of Biological Sciences.

During Boot Camp students attend real lectures and lab seminars, are assigned daily homework and given comprehensive tests over material covered in class. As the week progresses, students are also learning that studying has an entirely new meaning than it did in high school.

“I actually studied for the first time,” said St. Louis native Azeem Shariff. “I have to review notes, power points and ask questions.” Shariff said he realized he had moved to the next level as he sat in class on the first day of boot camp, trying as best he could to remember all of the information on the board. “I finally had to crack open my laptop and take notes.”

Although students don’t receive credit for Boot Camp courses, Reed said they are able to apply professors’ feedback to future assignments and adjust their study habits. The large enrollment also compels students to form study groups. Reed said that compared to the inaugural Boot Camp session in 2016, which had only 36 students, classes are a little less intimate. But still, students are impressed by the willingness of their professors to help them succeed.

“Everything is different from what I expected,” said Shariff, adding that he feels free to ask questions without judgement from other students or instructors.

Shariff isn’t the only one enjoying the early deep dive into college life.

Pre-med student Camille Elias said she’s excited to be getting a head start in learning how lectures work and looks forward to taking more classes this fall, and meeting people with different majors.

In between lectures, labs and exams this week, students are meeting and learning about various academic student groups like the pre-med and pre-dental societies, engaging in evening activities with the School of Medicine and School of Dentistry and having lunch with faculty and dinner with Student Affairs staff. Boot Camp will wrap up with an awards and recognition luncheon on Friday at noon just in time to enjoy campus welcome week activities kicking off on Aug. 18.

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