University Park, IL,
10:03 AM

Starting College Smart

As summer draws to a close, select Governors State University (GSU) freshmen are getting a jump start on college life.

Students sporting back packs or crossbody bags and stylish sneakers can be seen walking around campus with their new laptops. They are in and out of math and writing classes, resume workshops, academic advising and the Jaguar Den.

This is Smart Start 2018, an empowering two-week opportunity for new Jaguars to boost their math and writing skills, while exploring the campus, meeting faculty, staff—and making new friends.

During the evening, students gather at Prairie Place to relax, enjoy a movie, or friendly competitions. Tomorrow, they are set for an exciting game night from 7 to 9 p.m. in D1496 near the GSU Bookstore.

Most of the freshmen currently enrolled are starting smart, arriving early on campus to participate in a fun academic-style boot camp and navigate processes and policies for financial aid and housing. Other members of the Class of 2022 and new transfer students will also get to connect with GSU as part of the Service and Leadership Seminar.

The program offers students the chance to participate in community service projects, workshops and interact with current campus and community leaders such as University Park Mayor Vivian Covington on Friday, August 24 before their participation in GSU’s Annual Convocation.

Students also will travel to Chicago to visit Center on Halsted, Foundation for Women, and Millennium Park.

“Participants will discover how they can help create positive, sustainable change on their campus and communities, and, hopefully, accept a role in affecting positive sustainable change in the world and here at GSU,’’ said Zainab Kamara, AmeriCorps VISTA intern.

Regardless of where students are connecting, the activity is a critical element of success, said Vice President of Student Affairs Aurélio Valente.

“We know engaged students graduate, and early engagement —including Smart Start— benefits all freshmen. It gives them confidence to find their own space on campus. For two weeks, they own the campus, and that is empowering on day one.”

Freshman Xavier Kuhn is a nontraditional freshman who is excited about the writing and math classes he’s taking as part of Smart Start.

The Chicago Heights native went to the Marine Corps after he graduated from high school in 2011. After he completed his service, Kuhn decided to go back to school to study criminal justice.

Though he scored high on standardized tests, giving him the option not to take a few Smart Start classes, he decided to embrace the opportunity.

“I thought this would be a good refresher since I’ve been out of school for seven years.”