5 Signs You’d Make a Great Peer Leader

1.  You love to talk about Tufts and everything Jumbo.

Does your heart race just a little bit faster when you see an opening to talk about Tufts? Have you been guilty of talking up your favorite program on campus or discussing a controversial campus policy at 3AM in your dorm’s lounge?

That’s the kind of passion that we’re looking for in our Explorations and Perspectives Peer Leaders. As a Peer Leader, you’ll be guiding a group of wide-eyed, excited, nervous, and awesome first-year students through their first semester at Tufts. Everything will be new to your students, and they need an experienced hand to guide them through the bombardment of new information, people, and places. You’ll also be leading them through orientation week, and a love of Tufts and sharing your knowledge will certainly make your students feel more at home on the Hill.

2.  You love to learn.

Our Explorations and Perspectives seminars are not like other Tufts courses. Our Peer Leaders have a certain degree of knowledge regarding their course topic, but the seminar is meant to be an exploration of learning for both the students and the teachers (how cool is that?). You’ll not only be engaging your students, but they’ll be making you think more deeply about the topic at hand.

Kacey Taylor and Charlotte Rea taught "The Portrayal of the U.S. in International Film" this past fall.

Kacey Taylor and Charlotte Rea taught “The Portrayal of the U.S. in International Film” with a group of highly motivated freshmen.

3.  You don’t back down from a challenge.

Being an Explorations or Perspectives Peer Leader is a lot of work. You design your own course, get intensive training from some pretty great people at the ExCollege, work your way through orientation week with your 14 freshmen, and then go through 4 more months of learning, teaching, and being awesome as you explore your course topic with your students.

But at the end of it all, you’ll come away a stronger teacher, mentor, academic, and friend. You get the full support of us here at the ExCollege, other Peer Leaders, and (perhaps most importantly) your students. The bonds created through this program have literally lasted throughout lifetimes, and the slight challenge of planning, training, and teaching is 100% worth it.

4.  You have a knack for the creative and the innovative.

With “experimental” in our name, it’s kind of a giveaway that we want to provide our students with an innovative, interactive experience in the classroom.  Our Peer Leaders introduce over 250 freshmen every year to this mindset of the ExCollege, and they never fail to amaze us.

Since you design your own course as a Peer Leader, you get to experiment with teaching methods, topics, projects, discussions, and so much more. So get creative! Try something new, and explore the different ways that you can inspire your students.

David Nunez-Ariza and Jeremy Gross taught "Hip-Hop as Culture" this fall, and they painted the cannon with their students when they discussed the history of graffiti.

David Nunez-Ariza and Jeremy Gross taught “Hip-Hop as Culture” this fall, and they painted the cannon with their students when they discussed the history of graffiti.

5.  You take the time to listen.

It’s important to underscore the fact that you’re not just a teacher in an Explorations or Perspectives classroom. You’re also there to act as a mentor to all of your students—helping them traverse the freshmen year terrain and supporting them whenever they encounter an especially difficult obstacle. Whenever your students come to you, you need to listen closely in order to provide the best support.

Over the years, students in Explorations and Perspectives classes praise the availability and openness of their Peer Leaders. That stems directly from our Peer Leaders’ abilities to actively listen to students and balance their roles as instructor, mentor, and friend.

If you want to join the Explorations and Perspectives experience as a Peer Leader, then apply today! All applications are due on Wednesday, March 12.

Questions? Contact us at the ExCollege by calling 617-627-3384, emailing excollege@tufts.edu, or dropping by the office at 95 Talbot!

Explorations & Perspectives 2013!

Congratulations to the Class of 2013!! A hush has spread into the ExCollege office (and all over the Hill) with so many seniors taking off to pursue exciting post-Tufts adventures. We’re already missing our seniors, but we can’t wait to start getting email updates and surprise visits!

With the summer slowly rolling in, the Commencement excitement is transforming into an excitement for the fall semester and a new batch of Jumbos. In June, the incoming Class of 2017 will be getting a lot of Tufts-tastic information in the mail, including the coveted advising programs list. Every fall, the ExCollege provides the option for entering freshmen to enroll in either the Explorations or Perspectives advising programs.

Initiated in 1972, Explorations served as an innovative advising program meant to act as both an academic and social introduction to the Hill. Each Explorations seminar is led by 2 upperclassmen who design the syllabus and course topic themselves. From “Robots, Space, and Civilizations of the Future” to “Road Trips and the American Identity” and much more, the 9 Explorations seminars open to the Class of 2017 will continue the tradition of offering an experience that uniquely combines advising, learning, and a sense of community. Check out the current Explorations courses here.

After the awesome success of the Explorations program, Perspectives joined the ExCollege advising line-up in 1988. Unlike Explorations, with course topics wide-ranging, Perspectives classes all work under the large umbrella topic of “media studies.” Pre-2014, Perspectives seminars focused around the idea of movies, but given the surge in new media, the program has been re-structured to encompass all types of media. “The Business of Hollywood,” “Medical Fallacies in TV and Film,” and 7 other seminars will be offered to incoming freshmen this fall. Like Explorations, each Perspectives seminar has been custom-built by two upperclassmen ready to guide freshmen through their first semester as Jumbos. For a full listing of Perspectives courses, head over to our main website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

^2012′s Explorations and Perspectives Peer Leaders in summer training! 

Here are some memorable quotes from our 2012 Explorations and Perspectives students:

What did you like best about your Perspectives seminar?

“I loved my group and my leaders. I feel very close with each of them, and I think it has made the transition to Tufts easier and more fun.”

“I really enjoyed the conversation we had in class. I feel like I learned a lot from my classmates.”

What did you like best about your Explorations seminar?

“I really liked the environment. My instructors fostered an atmosphere that blended learning and relaxing. I looked forward to class each week.”

“I loved learning and going in-depth about a subject that I probably would have gone a lifetime without knowing anything about if not for this course.”

What was the most important thing you learned in this course?

“I developed a personal philosophy, and I’m optimistic about humanity.”

“To think openly and abstractly about current issues.”

“The importance of experiencing everything and becoming involved in things at Tufts.”

With such powerful and positive reactions from our most recent Explorations and Perspectives seminars, we’re looking to have a strong and memorable start to our 41st year of offering these programs in 2013. Between both Explorations and Perspectives this fall, incoming first-years will be able to choose between 18 extremely interesting and challenging topics. With 14 spots up for grabs in each course, the ExCollege looks to welcome 252 freshmen into our advising programs this fall! We can’t wait!

Teaching Perspectives

Written by Samantha Tye (A13), co-teacher of the Perspectives seminar ‘Films of Genocide.’

I can only imagine the thoughts going through my students’ heads the first time that we met as a group. Sofi Shield and I started out full speed ahead asking for names and dorms and hometowns. We wanted to hear about summer adventures while we simultaneously spewed out advice. I knew we were talking a mile a minute, but our excitement to meet our freshmen was too strong to contain. After about ten minutes of our premature advice-giving, one brave student raised her hand and asked, “Wait, isn’t this a class about genocide?”

I guess it wasn’t clear to our freshmen that during orientation week we would act as their advisors; help them get acclimated to campus and registered for their first semester. The stark contrast between new school year excitement and the somber topic of genocide added to the hilarity of the moment. Sofi and I burst out in laughter, realizing how absurd we must have seemed. The class was sitting patiently, ready to delve into crimes against humanity, and there we were, blabbing about our favorite professors. We quickly explained the misunderstanding, and our students joined in with laughter of their own. Needless to say, this broke the ice and set a wonderful tone for the remainder of our semester together.

It is hard to say what my favorite part of each week’s class was. Even as the semester went on, our freshmen never ceased to amaze us with their insight and perspective on the films we watched. They expressed wonderful commentary about portraying genocide through film and thoughtfully spoke about ethical dilemmas within the genre. I truly believe that I learned as much as the students did about genocide films. Sofi and I learned even more about being leaders, working with others and conducting a class.

On a simpler but equally enjoyable note, our weekly check-in at the beginning of each class was refreshing and allowed for continual relationship-building. I think all of us—teachers and students alike—really appreciated the twenty minutes we took to shares highs and lows of the previous week. We got to congratulate successes and suggest solutions for troubles. Our classroom environment was unlike that of any “traditional” Tufts classroom experience. Sofi and I were much more our students’ equals rather than their superiors.

Sometimes, when Sofi and I would be drawing up lesson plans, we would refer to our students as the “little ones.” We would quickly correct ourselves, however, because it didn’t feel right to establish that much distance from our students. Far before the end of the semester, we realized the “little ones” were first and foremost our friends and peers.

The Express!

Friday, February 1

Join the ExCollege: Become a Board Member or a Peer Leader!

Dive into the inner-workings of the ExCollege by joining the ExCollege Board or becoming an Explorations or Perspectives Peer Leader.

The ExCollege Board consists of 5 faculty members and 5 students and meets once per month. The Board tackles policy, discusses ExCollege initiatives and programs, and ultimately decides what courses will be offered to all Tufts students each semester. Each Board meeting allows both student and faculty members to plan ahead for the ExCollege while offering a welcoming atmosphere where everyone’s voice is heard. Download an application now and submit it to the ExCollege by February 22nd.

Have you ever wanted to teach at Tufts? Consider becoming a Peer Leader through the Explorations or Perspectives programs. Teams of two upperclassmen lead a first-year seminar in addition to acting as orientation leaders and mentors for their group of first-year students. Design your own course, earn 1.5 credits, and have a great teaching experience! Check out the FAQs for both programs, download an application, and submit your course proposal by March 13th. You can even head over to our blog to read about the experience of a Fall 2012 Explorations leader, John Dame. An Information Meeting for both Explorations and Perspectives will be held on Tuesday, February 5th at 9:30pm in Room 220 of the Campus Center.

A Taste of Tufts Review: Sam Sommers

Written by Lenea Sims, A15 & ExCollege student worker

With the new semester comes a new lineup of A Taste of Tufts! Sponsored by your very own Experimental College and supported by the SPIRIT Fund, A Taste of Tufts is a lecture series dedicated to bringing some of Tufts finest professors in front of a crowd that may not normally get to see them speak. This semester’s series began today with Associate Professor Sam Sommers from the Psychology department. Professor Sommers opened up his talk—titled “Examining Racial Diversity: A Behavioral Science Approach”—by acknowledging the differing views often surrounding his topic. “There’s a lot of discussion and debate about diversity,” he said. “It’s a particularly controversial and polarizing concept.”

After briefly acknowledging the ethical and legal side of the debate, he quickly turned to what he knows best, saying, “What are the effects of diversity? How can we study the question of diversity empirically that tells us something about the societal effects?” He then dove into some of the more recent studies done in his lab at Tufts; each one completed with the aid of undergraduate and graduate students whose names he happily credits in his findings. In one, for example, he found that when white students interact with someone of a different race, they often experience more anxiety and show signs of cognitive depletion—symptoms that they don’t nearly as often display when working with another white student. In other words, when faced with dealing with someone of a different race, students became so concerned about making that person like them, that they became mentally exhausted.

Professor Sommers closed his talk and took a few questions, ending by reminding students to always go into situations looking to have a genuine connection rather than worrying about if the person they were dealing with would like them in the end. It’s a concept he admits is a bit “Mr. Rogers-sounding,” but we can all agree that it’s certainly a nice outlook to have.

Updated Taste of Tufts Schedule

After some minor shuffling around, the ExCollege has updated its schedule for this semester’s Taste of Tufts presentations. Be sure to reserve every Friday from 12pm—1pm on your calendar to catch up on the latest faculty research.

  • February 8: Ken Garden, Religion
  • February 15: Nina Gerassi-Navarro, Romance Languages
  • February 22: Anthony Monaco, President
  • March 1: Mary Davis, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
  • March 8: TBA
  • March 29: Ayanna Thomas, Psychology
  • April 5: Benjamin Hescott, Computer Science
  • April 12: Noe Montez, Drama and Dance
  • April 19: David Harris, Provost and Senior Vice President

Sneak Peek into the Annual Newsletter

Each year, the ExCollege produces a massive newsletter, the E-News, to update current students, faculty members, staffers, and alumni on the most important ExCollege news. A range of articles are written by various authors for a wide range of perspectives! You can look forward to reading articles by:

  • Sara Harari, A12 and creator of “A Taste of Tufts”
  • John Harrison, A12 and former ExCollege student worker
  • Sarah Moser, returning Visiting Lecturer of “Asian Cities in the 21st Century”
  • Mimi Arbeit, Visiting Lecturer of “Sexual Wellness on College Campuses”
  • Kumar Ramanthan, A15 and student ExCollege Board member
  • Phil Starks, ExCollege Board chair
  • Madeline Hall, A13 and former Explorations Leader
  • Samantha Tye, A13 and former Perspectives Leader
  • Robyn Gittleman, Director of the ExCollege
  • Howard Woolf, Associate Director of the ExCollege
  • Beky Stiles, A12 and ExCollege Program Assistant

Be on the lookout for the latest edition of the E-News in late February! In the meantime, glance over archived newsletters to learn about previous ExCollege endeavors.

Still searching for the perfect study group?

Worried about that upcoming test or confused by your homework? Don’t know anyone in your class yet? JumboStudy, a new mobile peer-to-peer study service, can help! Log on at http://jumbostudy.tufts.edu to view available study groups for your classes or propose new study groups. Where and what you study is up to you! For more information, check out http://sites.tufts.edu/atfellows/projects/jumbostudy/.

Did you know…

Every year the ExCollege receives over 140 course proposals from professionals, grad students, educators, and more in the greater-Boston area wanting to teach. The process to whittle that number down to 22/23 takes an entire semester of sending out solicitation materials, processing each application, interviewing each candidate, and holding the full-day Board meeting in order to finalize the upcoming semester’s course list.

Around Campus

New semesters always bring about a lot of ‘firsts’: first semester trip to the Rez, first day of classes, first Sunday Sundae (& Thursday), and (of course) first special event of the semester. If you haven’t yet attended an event, make your first event outing one to remember! Check out these upcoming programs, and be sure to scroll through TuftsLife and Tufts Events for even more insight into happenings on the Hill.

  • Get your art on by heading over to a Tomasso Lecture!

The Department of Art and Art History presents “Michelangelo, Bandinelli, and Bernini: The Long Goodbye.” This Tomasso Lecture will be given by Dr. Maria Loh of University College London. Head over to Granoff 155 at 5:30pm on Monday, February 4th to dive into the world of art history. See the full event flyer here.

  • Want to take your business idea to the next level?

The Tufts $100K Business Plan Competition is gearing up for 2013! An Information Session will be held on Wednesday, February 6th from 12pm to 1pm in Anderson’s Burden Lounge. Be a part of one of the country’s biggest university-sponsored competitions, and earn money to transform your idea into a business. Submissions are due February 22nd.

Explorations: An Experience that Enhances a College Career

The following blog post comes to you from John Dame, current junior and co-teacher of the fall 2012 Explorations class NCAA: Athletes, Sports, and Money. 

In the spring of 2012, my classmate Jon Sobo approached me about teaching an Experimental College class that coming Fall. I had taken a class taught by my peers as a freshman, but I was fairly skeptical about teaching. The class I took my freshmen year was extremely productive but I was not sure I could handle leading a classroom on a weekly basis. Jon and I are heavily involved in the football program at Tufts, which marginalizes our schedules quite a bit. Therefore, I was concerned I was not going to be able to pledge enough time to the class due to our other commitments.

However, we were able to put forth a lot of energy into the course. We decided to teach about the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), doing classes on everything from recruiting and coaching to life as a Division I athlete. We arrived on campus in late August and engaged in extremely helpful training, learning how to teach the class with its long length of two and a half hours. After the training, we participated in orientation with our students, which was a rewarding experience. The opportunity to spend time with our freshmen on their first day away from their parents was valuable. We immediately became the people they looked to on campus, as they did not have anyone else. This allowed us to form some great relationships with our students.

Once orientation ended and our students settled in, they formed a great relationship with each other. Aside from teaching, this was the most enjoyable thing about running an Experimental College class for freshmen. On the first day, they were awkward, scared, and antagonistic towards each other. However, by the third week, students were bringing in birthday cakes and decorating our classroom for their peers. Their relationships quickly developed and they relied on each other as they endured their first few months of college.

Overall, the teaching experience worked perfectly. The students were respectful each week and we achieved our goals by the end of the course. Each student received a well-rounded education on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and they all delivered excellent final papers that displayed their knowledge of the subject. Each of them took the class very seriously and also made sure to let us know that they appreciated our efforts in teaching them. We had little to no problems in our class and it was an incredible experience that made me value my teachers and the Tufts community even more.

An Inside Look at the Perspectives Program

For our first blog post about the Perspectives program we have a two for one special: insights from co-leaders Bill Cotter and Travis Grodkiewicz!  As the deadline to apply to teach in this program quickly approaches check out their reflections on what it was like to be a part of Perspectives this year! 

Bill’s Perspective:

Freshman year can be a serious roller coaster.  My greatest goal in teaching a Perspectives class was to create an environment where our students felt at home, where they could escape the roller coaster of college for a bit, relax, have fun, and of course learn something in the process.  Basically, I was trying to create something that I wish I had had during my own freshman year.  Somehow (I guess through a combination of hard work and luck) we managed to succeed, and I think every one of our students would tell you that coming to class was a highlight of their week.  At the very least, it was for me.   Continue reading

The ExCollege: A Freshmen Perspective

Becoming a freshman at Tufts is an experience like no other. Your script for the first few days consists of three questions and then three answers: 1. What’s your name? 2. Where are you from? and 3. What dorm you are living in? Then you would move on to meeting the next person. This is the taste of Tufts during orientation week. If anyone is interesting enough you continue the dialogue; if not, on to the next person! Then you worry about who your roommate really is and whether or not you’ll be surviving the chaos once the rest of the university steps foot on the hill. I was lucky enough to have chosen the Perspectives advising option, and had two upperclassmen as my professors in a class offered by the ExCollege. Continue reading