As someone who works in marketing communications, I can tell you there’s not much that’s more valuable than knowing what your customers think about you—and that’s true not only for businesses but also for higher education. We know that students and parents are our primary customers.
As the parent of a recent college student, I looked for information that reflected what my daughter’s fellow students and their parents thought of their university.
As a journalist, I know that when you provide the complete picture of a situation, the positive parts of that picture have more credibility.
So, given all of that, I’m sharing with you a website where you can read authentic accounts of the experiences a group of freshmen are having during their first year at Longwood. There is a good cross-section of students in the group: They’re aspiring educators, law enforcement officers, communications professionals and psychologists. They love basketball and hockey, country music and playing the clarinet, Mexican food and pancakes—and a lot more.
I can’t tell you how much fun I have had getting to know these students and reading their posts, which are included in a blog you can find here: “My Life As A Freshman.” It’s not all sunshine and roses—because life isn’t like that. But the way they’re settling in, making friends and starting to love being at Longwood is truly heart-warming.
Andrea writes, “I’ve now been at Longwood for more than a week, and I can truthfully say that I’ve never felt more at home. Ever since move-in day, everyone at Longwood has made me feel so welcome! Everyone’s always smiling here, and they made me feel like family.” And she’s not alone in feeling that way—though some students write about missing home and their favorite foods, and feeling a little overwhelmed by their new independence.
So I hope you have a few minutes to explore what these 10 freshmen are doing, thinking and feeling. You might enjoy just reading their bios, which will give you a sense of the kind of students that are sharing your Lancer’s classes, dinnertimes and extracurricular activities.
And, finally, Happy Halloween! May your day be full of Jack-o-lanterns, candy corn, and friendly ghosts and goblins.
It’s going to be a busy few days for your Lancers. If you’re wondering what your students are up to—aside from studying, of course—here are a few ways they may be spending their time.
This afternoon, students will be treating children who live at at Parkview Gardens Apartments to an early Halloween Trunk or Treat. The event is organized and sponsored by Beyond the Numbers, a group of students who several years ago began working with children at the complex to provide extra help with homework, enrichment activities and a connection with a college student who encourages them to work hard at school.
Also this afternoon, students can hear about the everyday usefulness of math at a talk by a Virginia Credit Union representative and 2009 Longwood alum at the Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium Series. The talk is aptly titled “I’ll Never Use This … .”
Tonight, Longwood’s Wind Symphony will present a campus concert featuring faculty and student soloists as well as Longwood’s Camerata and Chamber singers.
Tomorrow there’s a Pumpkin Fest put on by Lancer Productions that’s billed as “pumpkin-themed fun for everyone.” Lancer Productions is a student group that brings entertainment to campus.
Saturday activities start early with “Breakfast at Ethel’s,” an open house for the Lambda Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority that includes breakfast. Longwood recognizes 23 national Greek-letter fraternities and sororities.
Later Saturday morning students can help out with cleaning up trash in the floodplain and forest located behind the Lancer Park residential complex. The event is sponsored by Clean Virginia Waterways, which is affiliated with Longwood.
There’s also an Around the World 5K sponsored by Longwood Global Leaders. It’s not a competitive race but actually a cultural event that will give students the chance to learn about countries around the world at water stations along the trail.
Finally, on Saturday evening, the Longwood Honors Choir and other vocal ensembles will join with students from several area school districts to present a concert on campus.
So, if your student says there’s nothing to do, you’ll have some activities to suggest. Information about all the events above—and many more—is available in the weekly email that goes out to all students every Thursday.
It was fun to see students filtering back onto campus Tuesday afternoon and evening after fall break. It’s lonely here without them!
We got some much-needed, heavy rain throughout the day yesterday—just in time for the first round of kids who flock to campus each year to see their favorite authors and illustrators at the Virginia Children’s Book Festival, which has been held at Longwood since it began six years ago. I could see the children trooping down the sidewalks between Lancaster Hall and the Upchurch University Center with their colorful backpacks—but mostly without raincoats or umbrellas—seemingly unconcerned by, or even enjoying, the drenching they were getting.
Did you know that the Virginia Children’s Book Festival is the largest children’s book festival on the East Coast? Did you know that the festival brings the “rock stars” of children’s and young adult literature to campus? This includes Todd Parr (The I Love You Book and many others), Victoria Kann (of Pinkalicious fame) and Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved) and numerous Newbery and Caldecott medal winners.
This year we’re expecting 10,000 elementary, middle- and high-school students—many of them on school field trips and traveling from quite a distance away—to attend. Longwood is the lead sponsor of the festival, which has grown into a nationally recognized event, drawing the attention of the Washington Post as well as regional newspapers and television stations.
And it’s all free.
For your students—especially those who are preparing to be teachers—it’s a great opportunity to see how authors and illustrators relate to their readers. Longwood students can attend any of the presentations, workshops and other activities.
Students also can get involved in the festival by volunteering. This year, more than 90 Longwood students are helping out at the festival. That’s about 75 percent of the total volunteer “workforce”—and another example of citizen leadership at work.
If you’re looking for a reason to come to campus—and you still love children’s literature—consider a road trip. The festival continues through tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 18. You can find a schedule of Friday’s events here.
Here’s another event that might entice you to visit campus this month.
The Richmond Symphony will be giving a concert beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27. Longwood students get in free with their ID, and tickets for the general public are $20. The program includes works by Tchaikovsky, Barber and Rachmaninoff.
It’s a great opportunity to share some of Virginia’s finest classical music with your student. Plus your ticket is worth $2 off a tasting at The Virginia Tasting Cellar (valid Oct. 25-27) in Farmville. For more information and to buy tickets, go to: go.longwood.edu/symphony.
If your student plans to stay in Longwood-managed housing (including apartments) during fall break—or even if they just think they might want to—they need to “register to stay” before midnight tonight (Thursday, Oct. 10).
Fall break is officially from 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, until noon Tuesday, Oct. 15. Longwood-managed housing will be inaccessible during that time period unless your student has registered to stay. Here’s the form (but your student has to fill it out): https://rms.longwood.edu:446/page/studenthousinggateway/
I apologize for mentioning this again this week, but it’s no fun to be locked out of your room/apartment!
How Do You Know It’s Fall on a College Campus?
It got a little chilly last night in Farmville, and the high today is supposed to reach only 72. The sky is blue, and there’s a light, cool breeze. From my office window, I can see a few leaves turning gold.
But there’s an even more telling sign that it’s fall: The hoodies and sweatshirts are out in full force. The majority of students were wearing them when I walked down Brock Commons yesterday. I even saw one young woman in a pair of knee-high boots. So, if your student is home for fall break, be prepared for them to pull out some warmer clothes to bring back to campus.
Your Students Are Joining the Clubs
Faculty and staff at Longwood are constantly telling students that getting involved on campus is critical to having a happy and successful college experience. Judging from the crowd that turned out for this fall’s Involvement Fair, the message is getting through.
During the fair, representatives of many of Longwood’s 175+ student organizations actively recruit new members. It’s a great way for other students to find out a lot in a short amount of time—and all in one place.
Maybe you’ll see your student in one of the photos here. But even if you don’t, you can ask them if they attended the fair and if they saw any organizations they’re interested in. Who knows? They could take up a new sport, join the Longwood Company of Belly Dance or help Operation Smile give children with cleft conditions something to smile about.
Coping with Challenges at College
Sometimes college life—and just life in general—can be challenging. And sometimes you need help dealing with those challenges.
Have you noticed that your student seems more stressed out than usual? Have they told you they’re having a hard time making friends? Do they seem to be getting more homesick instead of less? Or something else may not seem quite right to you. If so, there is a place your student can go for help on campus.
This semester CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) is offering a rotating series of skill-building workshops, three weekly therapeutic groups and a weekly Ally Hour. With the exception of Ally Hour, each student will first meet with a psychologist or counselor for a 30-minute initial consultation. At the end of the consultation, a referral to the workshops or group will be made if therapeutically warranted.
Counseling Workshops The Counseling Workshops are a rotating series of three skill-building sessions that cover mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance, teaching students how to become more aware of their inner thought processes, improve their relationships with others, manage changing emotional states and cope when emotions are high. Stress and Anxiety Management Group (two groups) This weekly group is for students who have symptoms related to stress and anxiety and are seeking support and strategies to cope more effectively. In the group, students can gain support and constructive feedback from other students who struggle with problems related to stress/anxiety. Advocacy Communication Transition (ACT) Group This weekly support group, a longstanding collaboration between CAPS and the Office of Disability Resources (ODR), is open to any student who has registered with ODR. Students can openly share concerns, discuss issues, gain specific skills and strategies to meet personal goals, and receive support and encouragement. Ally Hour Ally Hour provides a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ students to learn about CAPS services and offers an ongoing discussion about resources available at Longwood and in the community.
Fall break is set for Oct. 14-15 and, judging from everything that’s happening between now and then, your student is going to need it. (Be sure to see the important information about housing over the break at the end of this post.)
Here are a few details about some of the upcoming activities.
OKTOBERFEST The biggest fall student event, Oktoberfest got started this past Sunday with Longwood’s traditional bonfire (see photo above), where students learn about the history of the university. But there’s plenty more in store through Saturday—and it’s definitely not to be missed.
Here are some of the highlights:
*Alzheimer’s Walk (Thursday). Students walk to raise awareness and money for research. *Color Wars (Friday). The freshmen and juniors, armed with green paint, team up against the sophomores and seniors, armed with red paint, to see how much “color” they can throw on each other. Most people wear a white T-shirt to the event so they’ll have a paint-soaked keepsake. Here’s a glimpse of the typical action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AzRUt0EB6k (Look for President W. Taylor Reveley IV at the 1:27 mark.)
*Black Student Association Ball (Friday). Students enjoy a night of food, fun and dancing. Proceeds go to local charities.
*Oktoberfest Celebration (Saturday). This is the main event, which starts with a picnic lunch and goes into the night. Time-honored activities include the Klown performance and dancers dressed in lederhosen.
There are also student organization and novelty booths; student performances by musical ensembles, the Longwood Company of Belly Dancers and more; and lots and lots of bands playing on a large outdoor stage.
Everybody loves Elwood, Longwood’s mascot, and each year a few talented students are chosen to bring Elwood to life.
This year’s tryouts are scheduled for 4-6 p.m. Oct. 8in the Willett Hall dance studio. The identities of the students who are selected are closely guarded until their graduation day, where they are revealed and celebrated.
MAJORS AND MINORS FAIR Is your student still in the process of deciding on a major? Or maybe they’d like to add a minor or a second major? This is the place to get information about all the options. It’s set for 3:30-5 p.m. Oct. 8 in Blackwell Ballroom.
JOB, INTERNSHIP AND GRADUATE SCHOOL FAIR The title of this event, scheduled for noon-4 p.m. Oct. 9 in Blackwell Ballroom, just about says it all. More than 30 companies and organizations and more than 15 graduate programs are expected to be at the fair to talk to students. Currently signed up to recruit employees and/or interns are the National Ground Intelligence Center, MassMutual Commonwealth, the cities of Richmond and Roanoke, Cetera Financial Group and Charlotte County Public Schools. Graduate programs to be represented include the University of Virginia, ODU, George Mason, James Madison and Drexel. Students should bring copies of their resumes and be prepared to work the room.
FALL BREAK AND HOUSING No undergraduate classes will be held on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15. For housing, fall break is considered to be from 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, to noon Tuesday, Oct. 15. Longwood-managed housing will be inaccessible during that time period unless your student has registered to stay.
Students who live in Longwood-managed housing, including apartments, and want to have access to their housing over fall break must register to stay. Even if your student isn’t sure about their plans, they should register to stay. Here’s the form (but your student has to fill it out): https://rms.longwood.edu:446/page/studenthousinggateway/
The deadline to register to stay on campus during fall break is one week from today: 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10.
Whether your student comes home to be with you over the break or decides to stay in Farmville, these days off are a great opportunity for them to relax and recharge—or maybe to get caught up on assignments and prepare for upcoming tests. Mid-term grades should be posted no later than the end of October.