How first-year students will start college on campus

Rhodes College offering three weeks of classes, social activities and career planning
By: | June 1, 2020
Rhodes College's first-year students have a chance to live on campus, take classes and participate in social activities for three weeks before the fall semester starts.Rhodes College's first-year students have a chance to live on campus, take classes and participate in social activities for three weeks before the fall semester starts.

First-year students at Rhodes College will start the school year on campus by attending a three-week ‘premester’ with safety and social distancing built into all classes and social activities.

About 50 students will live in the Memphis institution’s first-year residence hall and dine together. Indoor meals will be served at the campus refectory and outdoor dinners will be catered by local restaurants.

“We’ve been wanting to find ways to connect with students earlier and get them onto campus earlier,” Associate Provost Tim Huebner says. “When the pandemic hit, we got especially focused on the issue of engaging first-year students—and engaging students who might be on the fence about their decision.”

The premester, which makes it debut on July 27, offers condensed courses—capped at 10 students each—in writing, literature, coding, humanities, psychology or chemistry.


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Social activities outside of class will include a running club and a “Masked Singer”-style karaoke night, says Jamia Stokes, the associate dean for student success.

“We recognize that students have to have things do after classes are over,” Stokes says. “We want to make this fun and have students keep themselves outside.”

The courses will be followed by a three-day career workshop designed to get students thinking about how their potential majors connect to future careers. They will receive guidance on what courses to take and on how to find internships and other career-oriented experiences, Stokes says.

Administrators will be consulting with a health care provider in the coming weeks to finalize safety precautions for the first-year students, Huebner says.

The premester gives administrators a chance to implement and review safety protocols before the fall semester begins at the end of August, he adds.

“All the research shows that students want to come back to campus,” Huebner says. “We will have an opportunity to implement our procedures on a small scale before we have to do so fully.”


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.