Panel discussions provide Associate in Arts Program graduates important information about life on the Newark campus.

Making the transition

Transitions Day prepares AAP grads for life on UD's Newark campus

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2:42 p.m., July 23, 2014--University of Delaware Associate in Arts Program graduates headed to the Newark campus this fall got some timely tips on achieving academic success during Transitions Day, held Thursday, July 17.

George H. Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, welcomed about 200 students plus parents and guests to the opening presentation in the Trabant University Center. 

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“Congratulations on the recent completion of your Associate in Arts Program degree requirements,” Watson said. “You are now beginning the transition to the next phase of your academic career, which we hope will end with your second UD degree, or perhaps a third, in case you are thinking about a graduate degree.” 

The Associate in Arts Program reflects the seriousness with which UD adheres to its Commitment to Delawareans and the guiding principle of “Delaware First,” Watson said.

“The message here today is one of engagement and discovery,” Watson said. “We are proud that you have chosen this University for your education.”

Watson called on students to familiarize themselves with the wealth of activities, events, clubs and other experiences that accompany academic life at UD.

“You could work with a distinguished professor in biology doing cancer research, take part in a UD study abroad program, volunteer for community service or work on a student committee organizing social activities,” Watson said. “You might interact in a unique learning approach called problem-based learning in our new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISE Lab).” 

Such activities are really opportunities to explore the many new and exciting challenges that enhance academic and social life at UD, Watson said. 

“They will enrich your UD experience,” Watson said. “Your interactions with other students and professors also will enrich their lives, and by extension the entire University.” 

Complementing studies in and out of the classroom with a balanced blend of recreational, social and cultural activities also helps to prepare students for careers after graduation, Watson said. 

“I urge you to discover yourself by becoming engaged in life here in Newark and making the most of the next couple of years,” Watson said. “Study hard and have fun. Study hard.” 

Study abroad

Jack Bartley, faculty director for the Associate in Arts Program, also greeted students and parents while lauding study abroad opportunities. 

“If you take a study abroad course, you also will get to know your professor really well,” Bartley said. “If you are going on to graduate school, you will need letters of recommendation, and there is probably no one better than the person you spent a month with during a study abroad course.”

Marie Gleason, a study abroad program coordinator in the Institute for Global Studies, gave a detailed look at study abroad opportunities and funding options.

“You should go home today and read about our Winter Session program and apply for it,” Gleason said. “If you are interested, the application deadline is Sept. 20. There are many ways to fund study abroad and we encourage all students to think about participating.” 

Student support

Renee Fisher, academic adviser in the Associate in Arts Program, noted that students will continue to need parental support, but will need it in different ways. 

“I talked to many of your students, and they are so excited to start on the Newark campus,” Fisher said. “They also are worried about the upcoming academic and social challenges they are going to face.” 

Fisher invited parents to visit the information tables in the Trabant University Center during the lunch hour to learn about available academic support and additional programs for students to consider. 

“Even our excellent students, our 4.0 students, stay 4.0 students by using some of these academic services,” Fisher said. “If you have a commuter student who is not sure how to get involved in student affairs, contact the professionals in the University Student Centers located in the Trabant University Center and the Perkins Student Center for more information.”  

Frank Newton, assistant dean in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, briefed parents and guests on helping students reach their academic goals. 

“Students need to be active in their own learning process by going to class and possibly doing undergraduate research or taking a study abroad course,” Newton said. “It is also important for students to use the many academic resources and tutoring services that are available.” 

Transitions Day activities

The sessions for parents and guests also featured “Career Planning: Parents as Partners,” with Matthew Brink, director of the University’s Bank of America Career Services Center, and “Student Life: Enhancing Academic Success,” by Charles Beal, director of the UD Center for Counseling and Student Development.

Student activities for the morning in the nearby Kirkbride Hall included a presentation to help familiarize students with the wide array of services offered by the Career Services Center.  

Associate in Arts Program students heard from their peers about how to make the transition to life on the Newark campus during a “True Blue: Following Your Blue Hen Spirit” session. A breakout session followed where students met with representatives from their respective colleges. 

Students and parents got back together during the lunch break and information fair that preceded campus tours for students and their guests. 

Parent, student reaction

George Hiuhu said the Transitions Day program was very educational and an eye-opener for parents and students who might be overwhelmed with the size of the campus and the many academic disciplines from which to choose a major. 

“The presentations covered a lot of things,” Hiuhu said. “There is a lot to learn at UD, but there also is a lot of help available.”

Norma Benjamin noted that the presentations gave parents a good idea of what to expect and how to help support their students. 

Alyssa Benjamin, a behavioral health and nutrition major with a minor in public health, said an open house previously hosted by the Associate in Arts Program helped her decide which major to choose. 

“I’m interested in nutrition, dietetics and health care and would like to work in a hospital or a place like the YMCA,” Benjamin said. “I’m looking forward to meeting people who are interested in the same things I’m interested in.” 

Bartley said it was a nice surprise to see how many parents and guests came along to support their students and learn about the many services available at UD. 

Transitions Day just keeps getting bigger and better each year,” Bartley said. “I also appreciate the efforts of the student volunteers, faculty and staff members who helped with the many presentations.” 

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Evan Krape

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