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Boot camp provides confidence, connections, for incoming students

Campus Life Aug 9, 2022
Two men and one women interact at a picnic table
Two men and one women interact at a picnic table

KOKOMO, Ind. — Moving to a new city and starting a new school can be a stressful experience.

Learning his way around and making connections at fall welcome boot camp, made Joshua Rodgers feel more prepared to begin his freshman year at Indiana University Kokomo.

“My goal coming here was to talk to people and make new friends, and learn to navigate campus,” said Rodgers, who plans to study computer science. “Now I have people I can talk to and hang out with who aren’t from my hometown.”

The one-day boot camp, offered through mid-August, also provides insight to helpful resources, and a chance to test technology they’ll use when the fall semester begins August 22.

Christina Downey, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and student success, said the connections they forge make it more likely students will persist towards earning a degree.

“Our social experience determines so much of our personal success,” said Downey. “Our sense of social self, and where we feel we can grow, thrive, learn, and take risks, is a huge part of who we are. We hope they come away thinking, ‘This can be my home. I can be OK here.’ Everything follows from that. If we can establish that, they are ready.”

This is the third year IU Kokomo has hosted the boot camps, with activities that were previously part of orientation or new student convocation.

During each session, students are placed in small groups — often by major — with faculty members who lead scavenger hunts to find classrooms and other important campus locations, walk them through using the Canvas web-based learning management system utilized for classes, introduce them to people on campus, and teach conversation skills to help with building relationships.

Rodgers was glad to learn that most of his classes are in the same building, and to find where he can ask for help if it needs it, preparing him to be handle school himself as he moves from Noblesville to his own apartment in Kokomo.

“Not having my aunt and uncle with me all the time, the change is big,” he said. “Nobody will be emailing to ask about my grades anymore. It’s up to me.”

Emma Justen welcomes the chance college allows her to have more independence.

“You’re more of an adult now, so you don’t have to do certain things you did in high school,” she said. “You don’t have to ask to go to the bathroom or get a drink. Being able to take these adult roles is really good in college.”

Justen, from Noblesville, added that her faculty members made it clear they and others on campus are ready to help if she needs assistance.

“I like that our faculty are so involved and want us all to get to know each other and ask questions, so we don’t feel unprepared on the first day,” she said.

Future nursing students Krista Batchelor and Jordan Duncan were excited to visit the nursing simulation lab and see the opportunities available to them. Duncan said she liked that her group’s leaders were nursing faculty members, giving them connections with the School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions right from the beginning.

“I was glad to meet new people and know who I can ask questions if I need to,” she said.

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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