Sunday, June 29, 2008

Campus going to get pretty quiet

Summer day school ended this past week and the Term V night classes will be completely over this week. There are final classes, final exams, final papers and all the last-minute items of all terms or semesters with students most anxiously awaiting the grades that come following the work. So, with the holiday this Friday, will come nearly three weeks of no classes and no students. But, I saw a calendar the other day and new students will begin rolling in right after the first week of August as resident assistants begin their preparations, the men and women's soccer teams will begin their practices and we will be in the second semester of the college's centennial year.

As noted earlier, the Coker Connection, where about-to-be first-year students get to meet some of their classmates appeared to be quite a success. One of my colleague's daughter's was not sure she was going to enjoy it and called her mother at 1:30 in the morning telling her what a great time she was having. Team building, conversations, some pre registration and other activities filled in the times not spent by students getting to know one another.

Since this seems to be a potpourri of things, one of the student helps seems to have come up with the idea of extending the Coker late night breakfast to the summer program and we cooked some breakfast food for student dinners last Thursday and this also seemed to add some important Coker camaraderie to students stressed with pending finals.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"The Great Debaters" - A Discussion

This week I had the opportunity to lead a roundtable discussion with students attending the Coker College Connection. They were discussing the movie The Great Debaters. Since I teach a lot of public speaking, it is a movie that I really like. From a persuasive speaking perspective I love the scene the DVD calls 'The Hot Spot.'

The 13 students around the Davidson Hall table seemed to like the movie and from the discussion it appeared all were moved by some aspect. A key learning that one student surfaced and most seemed to agree with was that a major message in the movie was that "you are going to face really difficult situations in life but no matter what you face you have to take control and push on to achieve your goal." Wow! I was sitting there thinking there is not a more relevant message for the students to be taking away from an activity as they get ready to begin their undergraduate college careers.

It was also noteworthy to me the way the actors and directors succeeded in making people feel. While not everyone in the group spoke out there seemed strong agreement that the actors achieved their goal of being the characters. There also seemed strong agreement that the audience felt the raw emotions being portrayed in this story.

I am glad Student Services asked me to be a part of this exercise. There were several faculty members involved in leading these round table discussions.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Coker Connection

There will be more than 65 recently graduated high school seniors on the Coker campus today, Monday and Tuesday taking part in the Coker Connection. This is an event that Student Services holds to help make the transition to college smoother. The event is voluntary and is an opportunity for the new students to get to know their Coker classmates in a pretty relaxed atmosphere.

Term V is beginning last full week of classes --
And, as the pending new students are on campus, the summer school is entering into is last week as is Term V of the Night School. The Term V classes began back on May 8 and the this week are classes 13 and 14. Coker's night classes last from 5:30 to 7:50 and from 8:05 to 10:30. Most of the night students have full-time jobs and families but this is an opportunity to complete their college degree

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Prospects on campus

The first day of summer was also one of those Open House days for prospective students and often their parents to get a feel for the campus. It was fun for me to get the opportunity to talk with the group and discuss how exciting the campus is as a true "learning community." The goal of this talk last Friday was to make the students (and the parents) aware that though Coker is small the opportunities are limitless -- especially when it comes to interaction with faculty. My role was to reiterate the point that Coker is a teaching institution with faculty who focus on the students and the classroom. Several specific examples like the trip students take to Mexico or to Europe or to NYC or the research they do in the biology lab put some specifics on the concept of student/faculty interaction. The Admissions staff, as usual, had it all well organized and it was easy to tell during conversations at lunch that students and parents were impressed with Coker and were getting their questions answered.

It was sort of a busy day for admissions because they were also hosting a bus load of high school counselors who were visiting campuses across South Carolina to get a first-hand view for when they have the opportunity to talk colleges with their advisees.

And, the campus is a bit more alive with students this weekend as a cadre of student volunteers are here to put on the Coker Connection. This summer there are about 66 members of this year's incoming class taking part in Coker Connection on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

In the classroom, the Term V summer night class will be presenting the persuasive speeches on Monday. We used a short clip from THE GREAT DEBATERS to highlight some of the persuasive speaking impact and that is a film the Coker Connection students will be discussing this weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Night Class

Public speaking is the class -- one of the core courses required at Coker. It is a course that I really enjoy leading. Last night we were talking about persuasive speaking and one of the examples I used was to question how those in the class might encourage (persuade) someone to become a member of the Coker College Evening Program (

If you don't have a degree and find that you are being stymied in progress at your job, you immediately have one of the reasons they might have noted. If you enjoy a challenge and you like the feeling of accomplishment of meeting a challenge, you get that feeling every eight weeks as one term of two classes ends and another begins. That was another reason.

One thing that is often noted when you are trying to persuade people that a change is needed is that first, you have to persuade them of the NEED. We talked last night about Jeannie Robertson's observation (she is a professional public speaker) that "Change does not happen until the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same." So, first you establish the need.
When it comes to a college degree that need is often driven from within (as it turns out most persuasion comes from within, a speaker only provides the thought triggers).

After you establish the need, you have to have a workable PLAN. The Coker College Evening program has a plan that if you attend each eight-week session you will generally be able to get your degree in four years. There are not many programs with that kind of accelerated time frame. While no credit is given for life experience, it is common for past college courses to transfer in to Coker.

And, finally, when you have established the need and developed the plan, you have to show the plan is PRACTICAL. Many people wanting a degree find when thinking about a degree is that it is tough to find the time required when you have this other life you are living. Coker night students understand. Most of them have one or two full-time jobs and many of them have families. The college has set up a schedule for the Hartsville campus of Monday and Thursday evenings with classes of two and a half hours each. The first class begins at 5:30 and is over about 7:50 and the second begins at 8:05 and ends about 10:30. Coker also has evening campuses at Lake City, South Carolina, Mullins, South Carolina and Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

But, if you are doing a persuasive speech you would use some personalization and discuss some personal stories of students who work, who have families and who are succeeding at Coker. This makes the need, plan and practicality real to the audience.

We try to use real-world situations as we discuss certain academic courses. Public speaking is a very real world skill and it is fun when people develop a higher degree of comfort during the eight week class.