Today marked the first class of my course, Intro to Hopkins: Arrive and Thrive. This course has been a core part of the first-year curriculum at Hopkins for the past several years. Though not required, the University offers approximately 30 sections, some of which have a specific focus (Public Health Studies, International Students, Student Athletes). My class is a general section and includes students with a range of academic interests from around the world. As the first class was really a chance to introduce students to Hopkins, this course, and each other, I asked everyone to find a picture that represents “home” and use it as their background during our introductions. It was fun to hear students describe their hometowns and a great way to learn more about the spaces they will inhabit this semester.
In introducing the course I tried to reframe our virtual format as a potential positive. So rarely does the fall semester live up to the expectations that students place on it and much of the struggle of the first semester stems from a misalignment between those expectations (which are idealized and often unrealistic) and the reality of college life. My students have no illusions that this semester will live up to whatever expectations they had for it a year ago when they were applying to college, so this potentially frees them up to embrace new opportunities, connections, experiences, and potential pathways through their education.