DegreeChoices Speaks with: Elon University 

We spoke with Kevin Napp, Associate Dean of Admissions and Mandie Corcoran, Regional Assistant Director of Admissions at Elon University to get the best advice and tips for those embarking on their college future this fall.

What advice would you give to students that are now starting the application process?

Kevin Napp: I would encourage them to reach out to the schools they are applying to and ask good questions about the importance of certain requirements. Not every school evaluates applications the same way.

Good questions to ask include:

  1. How important is the essay?
  2. What weight does the school give to GPA vs test scores?
  3. Is visiting campus important before you apply?
  4. How important are extra-curricular activities?

This may seem like a lot of work, but firing off a few emails to admissions reps from the schools you are applying can go a long way. My other advice is to stay in contact with the schools you are interested in. Ask good questions and stay engaged. That will communicate how enthusiastic you are about the school(s).

Know what you want from your college experience academically and socially. Talk to a current student and ask open-ended questions that will reveal a true picture of the student experience.

Mandie Corcoran: Pace yourself. I recommend that students complete one thing at a time and try to keep an open mind throughout college. Also, know what you want from your college experience, both academically and socially. Talk to a current student and try to ask open-ended questions that will not necessarily give you responses you want to hear but will reveal a true picture of the student experience.

» Read: College culture shock

What advice do you give students on choosing a major?

Kevin Napp: At Elon, we offer an optional course to help students explore and discover their major. Also, our Student Professional Development Center can meet with students and talk through majors and how those relate to jobs and careers. Additionally, students can reach out to faculty members in other departments and ask to meet with them to learn more about their degrees and programs.

Mandie Corcoran: Take note of the topics you enjoy learning about and that truly interest you. Investigate whether any of those topics could lead to a major or if you can take a class to explore them further. Many people change their major, so don’t worry too much if you don’t make the right choice at first. If you dread going to classes, do a pulse check to make sure you are on the right academic path.

Many people change their major, do don’t worry too much if you don’t make the right choice at first. If you dread going to classes, do a pulse check to make sure you are on the right academic path.

» Read: Guide to choosing a major

Who are the most important non-professor faculty students should get to know as they set out on their college journey?

Kevin Napp: There are a variety of staff members who will also serve as official or unofficial mentors. The above advice of forming relationships is also applicable to this group. These individuals could be a supervisor for an on-campus job, library staff, student teaching assistant, etc.

Mandie Corcoran: Campus staff. Any members of the Elon community can serve as a mentor and they are eager to do so. Also, upperclassmen are excited to share their Elon experiences and can help you navigate life on campus.

What is the best way for students to discover organizations or activities outside of their studies?

Kevin Napp: Elon offers a club and organization fair at the beginning of each semester. There is also an online resource, Phoenix Connect, for students to explore events, clubs, and organizations.

Mandie Corcoran: The organization fair is a huge event and allows you to look at all the options for clubs and organizations to join. In classrooms and residence halls, there are posters about clubs and events. You can also attend different philanthropic events that sororities/fraternities put on to discover other activities outside of your studies.

» Read: The benefits of extracurricular activities

Do you have some advice for all freshmen at Elon University?

Kevin Napp: I think the best advice for an incoming freshman is to be intentional in building relationships in your first year. We know that the first few months upon arriving are critical in developing connection and friendships, which ultimately will play a part in retention [whether or not you stay in school].

Be intentional in building relationships in your first year. The first few months upon arriving to college are critical in developing connection and friendships.

Elon offers a wonderful new student orientation, first semester advising course, and student life programing that all aid in helping make connections. Apart from attending all that is offered from a structured set of programming, I would advise every student to be proactive in getting involved and meeting faculty, staff, and peers.

Mandie Corcoran: Get involved in a club or organization that interest you. This is a great way to meet new people and make the most of your time at Elon. Don’t be intimidated to meet and talk to people in your classes or around campus. At the beginning of the fall semester, we host an organization fair where you can meet student leaders for each of the clubs and organizations. Don’t miss it!

What are your top 5 tips to get the most from your classes?

Kevin Napp:

  1. Attend class. This might be an obvious one, but Elon classes are very small. They are designed so that you can get to know your professor and your peers. Our learning model is also very hands-on, so being physically present is important.
  2. Participate in class/ask questions. The cliché is true – if you have questions, it is likely someone else does as well.
  3. Go to faculty office hours. Every faculty member has required office hours each week. Go to those to ask questions or simply get to know your professor better.
  4. Ask for help when needed. Office hours, tutoring programs, and other students can all help you succeed if you are struggling.
  5. Be a good group member. Elon classes often have group projects or group work. There are many benefits to group work, but having a teammate who does not communicate or pull their weight is extremely frustrating. Be engaged, communicate with your group, and make some friends!

» Read: 5 ways to get the most out of your college years

Mandie Corcoran:

  1. Read through each class’s syllabus and make sure you have a firm understanding of the course’s requirements. It’s important to know the different expectations and learning objectives for each.
  2. Engage with fellow classmates and in class discussions. This can both help you stay accountable studying and be a way to have a social life and make lasting friendships.
  3. Go to a professor’s office hours. This allows you to develop a better understanding of the course material, ask questions, and to expand your relationship with your professors outside of class time.
  4. Do assignments ahead of time to stay on track, allowing you to ask questions early on.
  5. Try and do your readings before class, if the class has that option. That way you can be prepared with questions on the topics that will be covered each class.

How should students work to develop relations with a faculty member?

Kevin Napp: Some of basic ways would be to attend class, be involved in class, and attend office hours. The next layer of intentionality would be to invite faculty to lunch or coffee to get to know them better and develop that mentorship (Elon has a program where students and faculty/staff can go to a certain number of free lunches/coffees.)

Mandie Corcoran: Meet with your professor one on one. Faculty members have required office hours each week and these are usually the times you can get help on an assignment just to check in. Most professors encourage you to reach out and use them for support – they choose to teach at Elon because we value a relationship-rich education.

How can students get help if they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed?

Kevin Napp: It is important to first start by talking with your professor to see what help they can provide. We also offer tutoring services, which are highly recommended for all students. Lastly, our counseling services are also available for students may need additional care for their emotional well-being.

» Read: Dealing with depression at college

Mandie Corcoran: Elon’s counseling services are very helpful and accessible. In addition, faculty, especially professors, are very cognizant that the transition to college can be difficult and of the stress college can induce. Many professors can help you find resources, solutions, or plans of action. You can also talk to your RA.

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