Looking for programming ideas through the end of the year? Look no further! One of the biggest adjustments that your freshmen residents will make is just around the corner. Your freshmen are about to embark on their return trips home for not just another weekend…but for weeks! Bring back any fond, or not so fond, memories for any of you? While a weekend visit at home may not have been a big deal for your first year residents, chances are that a visit lasting for more than three or four days will. Why the big adjustment? The freshmen have changed. They are no longer the children that mom and dad left at the university only a few, short months ago. Some of the changes that may have occurred are positive. But as you know from looking around your hall, some of the changes these freshmen may have made, may not be so attractive and appealing to mom and dad. From changes in physical appearance (new hair styles, hair colors, tattoos, body parts pierced, etc.) to changes in attitude, levels of independence and interests, this time at home is sure to be exciting, yet challenging for students and parents alike. These changes are all a part of the college experience. But, they may create some tension on the home front.
How can you help? The best way to help the freshmen to prepare for some of the challenges they may face is to offer a program that will give them the opportunity to examine the ways they’ve changed and forecast how these changes might impact their relationships with family back home. Here’s one idea that you might want to consider for your next program…
Reel to Real
Everybody loves movies. In fact movies can serve as a great catalyst for conversation. Why not rent a few movies that illustrate change that produces conflict. You don’t need to watch the entire film, but review critical clips that might facilitate good discussion. Two movies that immediately come to mind…
Dead Poet’s Society
Even though this film depicts boys at a college prep school, it really illustrates how people change when they leave home and become more independent. Perhaps the greatest illustration of this is the boy whose parents want him to become a doctor who falls in love with acting after getting the lead in the school play. During the movie we see this character go from a non-confrontive individual following the dreams of his father to a more freethinking individual with dreams and goals of his own. For those of you who saw this movie, you know that the changes the son made creates a huge struggle between him and his father. More importantly the end result of that struggle is most tragic. This film clearly depicts how the student changed and the huge conflicts that resulted. There may be some freshmen on your floor that can relate to this character as they may be struggling with similar issues.
The lead character in this film goes through a great deal of change after a homeless man enters his life. As the movie begins his only concern is his thesis and graduating with Honors. As the homeless man becomes a greater part of his life, he begins to realize that there is so much more to life than the sheltered world he lived in. His changes impacted the relationships he had with his roommate, girlfriend and more than likely, his family. How have the relationships that your residents built with one another impacted their personalities? Have you noticed any freshmen that have changed a great deal as a result of relationships they’ve built with others over the semester?
There are plenty of other movies that you could use as well. You may want to choose one or two “funny” movies that illustrate the point, but add to the fun of the program. The movie “Son-in-Law” takes a fun look at a female college student who changes a great deal after her R.A. influences her in some positive and less than positive ways.
In the end, your goal should be to choose movie clips that will stir up a good conversation. Create some discussion questions for each clip and ask program participants to respond to them. After creating a more relaxed environment with the movie clips you can begin to ask freshman to personalize things by taking a look at themselves and how they’ve changed. Create generic “before” and “after” stick persons and ask participants to use pictures and words on each stick figure to illustrate the person they were in high school and the person they are at college. Let students share their creations and give them time to talk about the differences between the two pictures. Conclude the program by asking the freshmen to try and put themselves in their parents’ place. How would the changes they’ve just discussed make them feel?
Take some time and figure out what you can do to help your residents to prepare for the challenges they may encounter during the break. The more that you can do to help them think about these things, the more success your freshman might have with mom and dad during their first college break. Don’t be afraid to share your personal experiences. You’ve seen a lot and experienced a lot. That’s what makes you such a great R.A.!
Good luck with your program.
Submitted by Kim Moistner-Bartlett, Partner, Reslife.Net