By Dean Paul Jarley
Today is the first day of the spring semester. If you are new to the college, you are not alone. We welcome more than 1000 new students to the College. You’ve probably heard that we are big: more than 8200 undergraduate students, about a 1000 graduate students and 225 faculty and staff. It can be hard to stand out in such a large crowd. If you stand in the back of the room and wait to be discovered or provided the help you need, you guarantee disappointment and risk total failure. Fortune favors the bold here. Don’t miss out on accessing the many resources we have to help you succeed.
But our scale does not define your experience in the College, the shared beliefs of our faculty and staff do. We believe that no real learning occurs inside your comfort zone; that the most defining moments happen when you get to have a conversation with someone who has something interesting to say; and that a great education expands your horizons, helps you make good choices about how to spend your one precious life, and gives you the skills and confidence to know that you can compete with anyone anywhere. We have created a culture and set of experiences that will demand that you engage with us in the pursuit of these objectives. These things are not negotiable. If you are not willing to sign up for this adventure, we are not the place for you. Frankly your life here will be miserable. If you are willing to go down this path, the journey will transform you.
For our undergraduate students, the journey starts almost immediately. “Welcome to the Majors” is Friday January 17th. It is designed to introduce our newbies to the culture of the college and help them start to form a strategy for how to stand out from the crowd and “get to the one” (if you don’t know what that means you will). Welcome to the Majors is complemented by “Street Smarts,” a workshop run by our student Ambassadors that gives new students tips on how to best succeed in the College, including how to succeed in our core courses. The Ambassadors are part of the College’s leadership team and play an important role in shaping our culture. They will be doing several “Street Smart” workshops each day for the first two weeks of the semester in The Exchange.
The Exchange is a place where we invite in community leaders who have interesting things to say to our students. Thanks to our friends at FAIRWINDS Credit Union, we have a guest in the exchange almost every day. Most days we have more than one Exchange. Many of our guests in The Exchange employ UCF interns and graduates. They are interested in identifying good talent while sharing their experiences and advice with young people like you. At no other time in your life will you have so many potential employers coming to visit you. Go early and often, but remember to reserve your seat before you go, there are only 120.
By March you will likely have had your first tests in your primary core classes and will need to start taking a hard look at where your interests intersect your skills and talents. Many students come in to the College thinking they want to do something, only to change their mind mid-semester. The Office of Professional Development can help you understand where you might best fit in. Internships can also help. It’s why we do an Internship Invitational and Career Fest each semester. Look to get involved.
The goal of all this activity in your first seven weeks is to get you engaged outside of your comfort zone, to get you in the right major, plot an efficient course to graduation and have you develop an action plan for landing the job you want before you leave here. Our corporate partners, alumni, the Professional Development team, the Primary Core Faculty, the Student Ambassadors, and Jennifer Johnson who runs The Exchange are all here to help you make good choices as you start your time with us. And if you need some mid-course corrections, don’t worry we will have a follow-up to “Street Smarts” ready for you right after midterms.
Welcome to the UCF College of Business. Get your armor ready Knights. Charge On!