In Fall orientation in many colleges and universities, freshman students will be introduced to an array of faculty and staff, academic disciplines, reading lists, co-curricular activities, clubs and fraternities, university resources, and the beginning of new adventures in self-discovery encompassing exposure to different perspectives and development of academic and emotional intelligence.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of observing many students enter as eager, and somewhat uncertain, freshmen and develop into more confident individuals ready to find their purposes and places in an evolving world.
However, while watching students move onto campus, I have noticed a trend that is somewhat disturbing. It appears that more college freshmen are arriving on college campuses with an unbelievable amount of material possessions and personal “looks” that are more appropriate for the entertainment industry than for a higher education learning community. Moreover, when it is time to buy books or pay fees, some of these same students make decisions to continue to buy more material possessions, fashions, and personal amenities rather than invest in resources to further their education.
This year, as we focus on students and introduce them to college life, we will also attempt to engage students in small group conversations about contemplating the reflections they see in the mirror, gaining an understanding of their own special uniqueness, beauty, and developing a personal brand that exceeds Hollywood, celebrities, one-dimensional personas, and commercialized versions of how lives are supposed to be lived.
Maybe, in addition to gaining knowledge, students will graduate with positive self-confidence, a sense of purpose, a moral compass, and an appreciation of their own uniqueness and beauty.