Biology Boot Camp | Students Prepare for College Life and Major

As classes wrapped up their first week, many students are still adjusting to new schedules and professors. In particular, freshman may be finding the transition from summer to school difficult.

Biology newcomers, however, were prepped for their lectures after attending Biology Boot Camp.

Freshman and pre-med student Celeste Simonson joined Biology Boot Camp after she learned about it during orientation. She felt it would be beneficial to spend a week becoming familiar with the campus and the biology program, and to meet some of her peers.

Her first wake-up call arrived with the initial lecture.

“I was not necessarily expecting the quick pace of lecture, nor was I accustomed to the personal accountability,” Simonson said.

Simonson expressed gratitude that the boot camp afforded her risk-free lectures and practice exams. She could practice how best to take notes, pay attention and “arrive alert and ready to learn” during the week before classes started.

“My expectations shifted from a naive sense of blind confidence to a realistic understanding of the work and personal accountability required to do well in my studies,” she said.

Dr. Tammy Welchert of the School of Biological Sciences said this is one of the very reasons faculty implemented Biology Boot Camp in the summer of 2016.

“Many of our students are coming to UMKC mistakenly thinking this experience is going to be like high school,” Welchert said.

Students listen to “practice” lectures and learn how to best take notes.

Students listen to “practice” lectures and learn how to best take notes.

“They’re not prepared for the speed of or amount of material they are presented with in lecture. They have to figure out how to manage their time, navigate campus, and how to study. Boot Camp provides a supportive, encouraging environment for them to do this.”

Hardly having cracked open a textbook in high school, freshman Ethan Granger, who is also pre-med, agreed that the boot camp was an eye-opener in terms of time commitment and depth of material.

He also adjusted to a bigger class size.

“I graduated with a class of around 56 or so, and I was not used to learning in huge auditoriums with large audiences,” Granger said. He learned to block out those around him and connect with the lecture and professors.

For him, it was a matter of balancing new friends and a support system with the primary focus of the class and required study time.

The overwhelming response to Biology Boot Camp has been positive. From 2016 to now, the program grew from 36 to 91 students. Biology majors like Granger and Simonson recommend the camp for the learning opportunities, as well as for getting to know the department, their peers and mentors.

“The School of Biological Sciences lives UMKC’s goal of putting students in the center every day,” Welchert said. “We have a great team of committed faculty and continuing students who recognize the importance of helping each other so that all of us are more successful.”

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