Opinion: Is AUx a helpful freshman transition course or a waste of time?
Freshmen would be better served by a condensed version of the course
Imagine: You’re a freshman in high school. It’s your first day, and you couldn’t be more excited to leave behind your toxic middle school friend group and finally get elected into student government. You walk into your first period, biology, excited to start your path to valedictorian, but wait! Let’s start with a few ice breakers. That feeling of dread? Of discomfort at being put on the spot? Of annoyance at wasting your time? That’s what it feels like to sit through AUx.
Administration at AU has the noble goal of making the transition into college easier for freshmen after receiving requests from student leaders. They completely missed the mark, however, when they decided to fashion a two-semester course, titled the “AU Experience” or AUx, that all freshmen would be required to take. The course consists of endless ice breakers, talking about your feelings and learning things about AU that anyone with common sense can search on the internet. In other words, it’s banal.
As a freshman myself, I recognize that adjusting to college is a process, sometimes a difficult one. However, whatever difficulties I’ve had during this process have not been solved with what I have learned in AUx. A class that resembles an endless info session is not the way to introduce freshmen to the college experience. It takes up a class period in their week when they could be learning about something in which they’re actually interested. It adds immense unnecessary stress when professors decide to hand out Cs for busy work. It forces freshmen to waste time talking about being freshmen rather than experiencing it for themselves.
Perhaps freshmen would be better served receiving a condensed version of this course during Welcome Week. AU has freshmen stay an entire week before classes start with little to no actual activities to keep them occupied the entire time. There are definitely aspects of the course that should be taught, including the lessons on sexual violence and consent. The crash course to college that AUx is could be reworked to fit into that time frame, allowing administration to accomplish their goal of easing the transition for the incoming class while releasing freshmen from the obligation of spending two semesters in a course they dread.
I don’t discount that AUx is and will be helpful to some people. Some people appreciate having everything laid out for them. Those people should have the opportunity to take AUx, as it does have the potential to make people feel comfortable in their new college environment. But creating a class both with those who want to be there and those who don’t just makes for a negative situation for everyone.
It’s important for freshmen to know where they can go for help if they’re struggling. But I don’t need a class on a separate issue every week, each time culminating in the same suggestion of going to the Counseling Center if I’m having trouble. AUx is good and helpful in theory, but, in practice, is nothing more than a waste of time.
Riya Kohli is a freshman in School of Public Affairs and a columnist for The Eagle.