Connections? Why do I have to take Connections?
When freshmen start at William Woods University, they are sometimes surprised by one entry on their class schedules: Connections (WWU 101).
Connections is a one-credit, five-week course that is required for all incoming freshmen. It acts as an orientation to William Woods and college life. The majority of students take it in the fall of freshman year, while some do an abbreviated version during the Freshman Advantage summer session.
This course has been offered at The Woods in different iterations for the past fifteen years. Dr. Julian Hertzog, a Psychology and Education professor, was one of the original faculty members who designed and taught the class and he now runs the program and teaches in it.
“Connections focuses on connecting students to the school, the faculty, and other students,” says Dr. Hertzog. “So many students don’t realize everything that William Woods has to offer. They don’t see the value of Connections at first, but it’s the little things we teach in the class that help them in the long run.”
But what do you actually do in Connections?
There are four overall course objectives:
- Create connections with faculty and peers
- Increase knowledge of campus support services
- Increase knowledge of campus policies
- Develop transitional skills for successful college life
The classes are all taught by William Woods faculty members — the same professors who students see throughout their time at the university. Each session has a different theme, such as learning about time management, meeting key campus staff, promoting campus diversity, etc. But every professor teaches that theme slightly differently. Students may do fun activities, engage in group discussions, and visit different areas of campus. Each class and each day is different.
The classes also change from year-to-year, based on student needs and requests. For example, this year Connections all incorporate a class focused on financial aid.
Each Connections class also has a current upperclassman who acts as a mentor. Daryl Parungao ’19, a Psychology major from Fulton, Mo., has been a mentor for several classes.
“I give honest advice and sometimes it’s easier for students to hear from someone who’s actually going through life at William Woods,” says Parungao.
Many students ask Parungao if the class is hard. “Honestly, it’s the easiest A you can get and one of the most rewarding,” she tells them. “Connections isn’t there to be hard; it’s there to be helpful. If you take the class seriously, it makes you a much better student.”
There are small homework assignments and journal entries, but overall the workload is very manageable.
Dalton Spencer, a freshman from Waynesville, Ill. who is majoring in Athletic Training, learned about Connections through his academic advisor during a meeting at Woods 101 — an event for admitted students. He took the class this summer during Freshman Advantage.
“At first I figured it was just another required course to get out of the way,” he admits. “But it’s actually really fun and interesting. My classmates have all been friendly and I learned a lot about campus life and the surrounding area.”
The creation of friendships is something for which Connections is well known. “Over my years with this program, I’ve seen many students develop friendships in Connections that last a lifetime,” says Professor Hertzog.
Rosie Lenz ’21, an Art Education major from Boonville, Mo., agrees. “Week of Welcome can feel overwhelming, so being able to see the same people every day for the first few days is really helpful. I made a lot of friends in the class last year and they are some of my closest friends now.”
Some of Lenz’s high school friends had a lot of troubling finding things on their college campuses, but she didn’t have that added stressor. “Connections taught me right off the bat how to use Owlnet, find resources on campus, and survive college. And it showed me how much the faculty and the university care about us.”