Contextualization and Integration


College Life: Navigating the System and Campus Resources

As a new college student, connecting with your college community and utilizing support resources when you need them is essential to your college success. Harper has many resources available to support students through three areas: personal development, social engagement, and educational resources. Harper also provides students with information and technology resources to make sure you have all the necessary tools to reach your educational goals.

Engaging with your college community and building connections with others is an essential skill for academic, professional, and personal success. Through becoming an active participant in the Harper community, you will develop leadership, interpersonal, communication, and various other skills that can be utilized throughout your educational experiences, and personal and professional endeavors.

Every successful person you know, whether personally or through the media, has been supported by others in their journey to reach personal or professional success. Developing the ability to recognize that support is needed, then seeking out, accepting, and learning from the support and resources provided are skills that can be applied to various environments and will allow you to grow well beyond your first semester experience.

College Learning: Strategies for Academic Engagement and Success

There is no magic trick to college success. However, the things you learn that make you successful in college can continue to help you be successful long into your future.

In this course you reviewed how to set a SMART goal, a skill that allows you to set realistic goals and a plan to achieve them! Using this tool will allow you not only to meet shorter term or smaller goals during the semester, but it can also be applied to projects in your employment or personal achievements, like hiking the Grand Canyon or buying your first home.

Time Management is also an important piece of the success puzzle. You may have your goals planned out, but you need to make time for them! As reviewed, there are multiple ways to help manage your time, don’t be afraid to experiment with different options. Strong time management is a skill that you can continue to develop and will help you achieve your goals.  It can be applied not only with class assignments, but personally and in your career. Managing your time will allow you to use it more effectively and allow you the time to do more things you enjoy!

Basic study skills reviewed in this course give you a foundation to grow upon and options to use as you work to learn more! Do not assume that these skills are only useful in the classroom setting. As you learn throughout your life, you can use these skills to get the most out of every opportunity. For example, taking notes while reading or during a presentation allows you to review and refer to information later. It will allow you to better remember what was shared. This can be applied for a class or alternatively in personal or professional development opportunities in the future. Creating study groups allows you to practice a lifelong skill of working and learning from others. It will also provide you with the opportunity to connect with others with the same interests as you. Never underestimate the power of asking questions. Being comfortable asking for clarifying information not only helps you but helps your peers. Asking questions is a lifelong skill that will allow you to perform your best work and meet expectations in your future career.

While these skills may have been discussed primarily in the setting of the classroom, developing them will have a lifelong benefit.

Career Development: Developing an Academic and Career Plan

As described in chapter three, career development and educational planning are an important part of your academic and personal success. Through engaging in these activities, you will have the knowledge and resources to select an appropriate major and career path aligned to your preferences and attributes, you will get connected with your Advisor to develop an educational plan, and have access to various resources to continue your personal and professional growth at Harper.

Through the career development and educational planning process, you now have a better understanding of what interests and motivates you as a student. This information will allow you to select courses and activities that align with your major and career goals, as well as connect to relevant course content. For example, once you have selected a major or Area of Interest, you can engage in activities that support your goals including major-specific courses, clubs and organizations, internships, volunteer activities, and even jobs. Additionally, you have developed skills in research, critical thinking, goal setting, and decision-making that can apply to other classes you are currently taking or will take in the future.

Additionally, understanding how your education connects with your career through NACE’s core competencies will allow you to identify and participate in opportunities for continued learning and growth as a student and professional. For example, you should now be able to identify how each course you take as a student will allow you to develop one or more NACE career readiness competencies, which employers have identified as essential for successful employees.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are skills that can be used every day. Like learning any skill, the more you practice it the better you will become at it. You make choices every day, many times relying on knowledge from past experiences without even realizing it. Stepping back and analyzing those choices, you can see the critical thinking you may do each day. Growing that skill will allow you to effectively come to a conclusion for a research paper. It will also allow you to analyze the information you are exposed to in social media, news, marketing materials and daily interactions with other people. Critical thinking gives you the ability to take in information and create a better understanding of a situation. As discussed, it will require self-reflection as well as reviewing all the information to fully understand the problem that needs to be solved. This will allow you to review possible solutions and then the results of those solutions before making a choice.  In doing so, you are able to make the best possible choice. As mentioned, this skill allows you not only to solve daily problems, like if you should go to a concert this weekend but will allow you to review and be a part of solutions for larger career and life questions.

Information Literacy and Source Documentation

In chapter five, you learned how to interpret the validity of sources of information. You now have the tools to determine the likelihood that information you are receiving is true and valid. This is helpful in navigating the world around you. Often, information can be biased through different news sources, social media, or word-of-mouth. When deciding how to vote in upcoming elections, using data or information to support a decision you are making in your personal life or career and knowing how to assess information for validity are critical to ensuring that you are making an informed decision. Use these skills to take new information and contextualize it with information you already know to be true. This will provide a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of the world around you.

Diversity and Cross-Cultural Awareness

Diversity can be defined in various ways and has different meanings for different people. In the context of your college experience, diversity encompasses the differences of others in terms of race, culture, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and various other ways. Diversity also refers to how groups of people interact with other groups that may be impacted by those differences. These differences can be at the surface and be easily observed.  Alternatively, these differences may be deep-level and are not visible, but rather only understood by getting to know someone at a deeper level.

Diversity is an important component of your educational experience because you will experience diversity in your classes and activities throughout campus.  These experiences will  provides an opportunity for you to expand your views of the world through exposure to the perspectives of others. These experiences are opportunities to learn, become more open and global, and gain comfortability when interacting with others that are different from yourself.

Understanding diversity also includes concepts of equity, inclusion, and social justice – which are all important in understanding the history of diverse populations of the United States and the world. Through understanding these concepts, you can connect historical events to current social issues and understand how they have evolved over time. For example, the concept of equity has had a major impact on educational experiences for many students including the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. This policy requires “reasonable accommodations” for students with disabilities which provides equal access to education. This is one example of many historical events that have greatly impacted educational and professional settings as we know them today.

Cross-cultural awareness is an understanding that everyone’s culture and background has an impact on their thoughts and behaviors which will allow for you to effectively engage in diverse environments. Through your participation in this course, you will have explored your personal values, culture, and experiences and have an awareness of how this information impacts your interactions and behaviors towards others. This awareness is essential in building relationships and collaborating effectively with people from different cultures.

Experiencing a diverse learning environment and developing cross-cultural awareness as a student, while understanding and supporting concepts of equity, inclusion, and social justice is directly applicable to your future work environment. Through your participation in this course, you will have the awareness and knowledge to engage with diverse people and will have moved towards developing the skills to participate in challenging systems and policies of racism. Through an appreciation of diverse perspectives, you will provide yourself an opportunity for developing collaborative relationships and the sharing of perspectives in educational and working environments which are important career competencies in any industry.


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Harper First Year Seminar: A Guide to College Success Copyright © 2023 by Harper College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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