The Communications Honor Society, Lambda Pi Eta, has joined with Academic and Career Advising at Keene State College to enhance the communications program to help better transition freshmen as well as aid upperclassmen as they prepare to graduate.
According to Communications Professor Chitra Akkoor, the Communications Department has been working with ACA—specifically with ACA counselor Beverly Behrmann—for over a year, planning to set up workshops and presentations.
LPE members will go into classrooms and talk to transitioning freshmen about the communications program.
“Our students are going to go into our Intro to Communications class, for example, to talk about ‘What can you do with a communications major?’” Akkoor said.
Senior Justin Yamet had been a part of the honors society for the past year. ”What we are going to do as seniors is go into freshmen communication classes and have a brief presentation on how freshmen can better themselves through awareness in terms of what courses to take and what they can do in terms of getting a head start on finding out about internships and jobs and advising,” Yamet said.
“I think it’s a wonderful experience for seniors and the freshmen,” Yamet said.
Akkoor added, “We will go into the classrooms and talk to students about careers, how to take classes in a strategic manner. It allows our freshmen to see what the seniors are doing.”
Akkoor explained that students are more likely to relate to juniors and seniors coming into the classroom who offer their own advice as opposed to a professor or advisor, which may seem intimidating.
“Student-to-other-student would be better,” Akkoor said.
“Many freshmen are shy and don’t want to come out and talk to professors…and when you become juniors and seniors, you connect with us at a different level,” Akkoor continued.
Yamet also commented on the student-to-student advantage.
“I think that by being able to have seniors as people who they look up to would give them more guidance. There are so many freshmen that don’t have that guidance and they are all over the place and I think a lot of them have a hard time balancing academic life and social life,” he said.
Yamet offered his advice for freshmen who are uncertain about where they belong academically.
“Here at Keene State College, there are plentiful resources for students, plenty of faculty in various departments that are more than willing to help with questions or homework, and I think that it’s a very accessible campus and students should not overlook that,” he said.
Yamet told students who want to change their major to not be discouraged.
“I know plenty of students who have changed their major once, twice, three times— it’s not really a bad thing to not know what you want. I think that’s the beauty of going to college and taking courses,” Yamet said, “I think that they should take their time.”
As a freshman, having a relationship with a senior as a mentor might have helped Yamet transition into college, he said.
“It definitely would have made things a lot easier for me and less confusing,” junior and Secretary of LPE, Taylor Lindsey, said about having this kind of mentorship when she was a freshman.
Lindsey said in order for freshmen to understand what to do in the next four years, working with ACA really helps them map it out.
“When I came in as a freshman, I had no idea what to do. I think us working with ACA will help not only communications students but also anyone else who is interested in joining. Communications is very confusing in terms of mapping out the next four years, so working with ACA will definitely help.”
Akkoor elaborated on the content of the workshops that LPE will conduct, and said that mentorship will be a large part of their weekly meetings.
“We want to follow it [the presentations program] up with informal mentoring, like one-on-one or in small groups.” This way, students, “have somebody to talk to if they are going through certain difficulties,” Akkoor said. “This may, perhaps give them some direction,” Akkor added.
She explained how honors societies differ from clubs and the advantage of resource that enables LPE.
“Although we do have a social aspect, the main function of honor society is to promote academic excellence, and so we are defining academic excellence in more of a community fashion. Our best students want to pass on their support to others.”
“Our members are identifying different things based on their own experiences—there may be general guidelines in terms of note taking and how to approach your professor,” Akkoor said.
Lindsey said, “Communications has helped me communicate with people. We have awesome communication professors who help out and know what they’re talking about. Its gives you a lot of insight, and for jobs, you have to speak to people. I take a lot of the material I have learned and apply it to my own life.”
Akkoor, Yamet and Lindsey each agreed that not only will incoming students to the communications program benefit from these workshops and presentations, but so will they.
“LPE will benefit because they are gaining some very good skills. How often do you get to be proactive?” Akkoor said.
“This is an opportunity for them to go out and practice these skills, and we are giving them feedback. They get to hone their public speaking skills. These are very useful skills for when you go into the job market,” Akkoor added.
Yamet added, “Communications is such a diverse degree you can do so many things with it—it’s very broad. You can apply it to anything.”
“It [LPE] gives me incentive to want to be successful and understand how the real world works. By giving presentations and practicing now, it will be better when you’re in the work force and have to do these things for real for people and your boss. The more practice you have, the better you get at it,” Yamet said.
In terms of the future, the workshops and presentations will begin taking place this spring, before registration, according to Akkoor.
Lambda Pi Eta is also planning on upcoming social events in order to give students a chance to see familiar faces and feel comfortable.
“We feel like we should have some social events to pull in the freshmen and sophomores so we can create a bond and people feel like they belong,” Akkoor said.
Kenzie Travers can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org