Newly-arrived freshmen flocked to the Saturday afternoon to hear David Miller, assistant director of UConn's psychology department, give a presentation entitled “Forget High School: The Key to Academic Success at UConn.”
Miller peppered his presentation with humor and entertaining pop culture references that complemented his message.
One of his first slides showed a picture of a vast desert that was quickly filled by superimposed pictures of college students. His message: upon graduation, seniors are entering a barren, highly competitive job market – so they need to take advantage of opportunities in college to prepare themselves for what lies head.
“The job market right now is a vast wasteland,” Miller said. “You all need to think of ways to optimize yourself for what lies ahead.”
He explained that taking advantage of many of the opportunities available of UConn's research-one university status should be a goal for students, using the example of a freshman psychology major who had learned to operate an MRI machine while working as a research assistant for one of her professors.
To help students understand that college and high school are, in many ways, fundamentally different, Miller juxtaposed a picture of a typical high school with an aerial photo of UConn's campus.
“It's not just a measurable quantitative difference from high school,” Miller said about college life. “It's qualitatively different.”
Many of the major differences between high school and life at UConn, according to Miller, are related to UConn's status as a research-one university.
Miller explained that, while high school teachers are hired to teach, professors at UConn are hired to do research – their teaching duties are secondary.
“If you take biology here, you will have a biologist teaching your class,” Miller said.
Students who attended Miller's talk felt that his advice about studying was the most useful.
“I usually start studying only one week before the test,” said Shilla Thomas, a 1st-semester nursing major. “Now I'll be studying every day.”
Shilla also said she found Miller's instructions about how to communicate with professors via e-mail very useful.
Isabella Galvao, a 1st-semester undecided major, said she came to the talk to learn about academics at UConn. She read about the event on a calendar included with her Week of Welcome packet.
“I really just wanted to learn about academic survival,” Galvao said.