A warm atmosphere, crowded table and invaluable academic advice were all featured in today’s presentation “Storrs Workshop: Setting Up Your Semester,” put on by the University of Connecticut’s own Academic Achievement Center.
Located in the Rowe Center, the Academic Achievement Center (AAC) is a free service afforded to any and all UConn students looking to accomplish their goals for the upcoming semester and set up their own support network within the university.
The center boasts instruction and counseling that is uniquely holistic and provided largely by students — key aspects differentiating it from services provided by student advising offices. Underlying this support, the AAC offers four distinct services: academic coaching, supplemental instruction, presentations and workshops and UConn Connects.
UConn Connects, a volunteer mentorship program, is the school’s biggest of its kind. Students taking part are able to have weekly meetings with staff and undergraduate mentors. These mentors help the student optimize university resources and can help the mentee get the necessary resources to make academic success their norm.
Today’s event featured an experienced mentor, Baotien Nguyen, a seventh-semester animal science major. Nguyen’s presentation began by producing a background on the AAC before delving into some of the practical aspects that freshmen and new students alike should grasp in order to have a smooth first semester and successful transition.
Among these topics were SMART goals, organizational strategies, mentee opportunities, as well as weekly and semester-based schedules for visually planning out academic work. There were opportunities to engage in meaningful discussions about these tactics with other students, all of whom belonged to a diverse array of racial, academic and experiential backgrounds. More experienced students shared what they could have done differently and what practices work for them.
Physical agenda boards for the semester were distributed to attendees enabling them to view their major assignments for the semester in a concise dorm-worthy fashion. The friendly culture and atmosphere of openness encouraged discourse between students, helping to produce yet another network for fresh first-years to rely on.
One of the myths that the AAC hopes to dispel is the idea that students utilizing its services are “underperforming.” With over 13,000 visits per year from students across all UConn campuses, and an average GPA of over 3.0, this tale couldn’t be further from the truth.
The reality is that the center’s services can be utilized by students of all backgrounds, majors and needs. Oftentimes, students pay a visit simply to hone their studying strategies, get advice from a mentor who has taken a class before or help plan their future coursework. After all, the center offers mentors for some of the most notorious classes on campus — think BIOL 1107 and CHEM 2443.
Whether you’re a fresh first-year, or a seasoned senior, each and every Husky stands to gain from the AAC’s network of support and knowledge.
“Taking the first step isn’t easy, but when you take that first step, it becomes easier to start running,” said Nguyen as he encouraged all students who believe they may benefit from the AAC’s plethora of resources to pay the service a visit at room 217 in the Rowe building.