The Power of Listening.

My College Retention course has provided me with a unique opportunity this semester. This semester our professor, Dr. Doug Guiffrida, has given my classmates and I the opportunity to be a mentor to an incoming freshman student.

The goal of this project is for us to get hands on experience working with a freshman college student, and to hopefully make a positive difference in their college experience- however small it may be.  Dr. Guiffrida has truly given us the freedom to pursue this in any way we want to.  It allows us to get out of the books and into the practice.

The students signed up to be a part of this, and my classmates and I were all randomly assigned a student. In essence, we are supposed to meet with the student roughly five times over the course of the semester. Having gone to the University of Rochester as an undergrad, I was excited that I would have a lot to tell the student about, make suggestions, and just be very informative to them overall.

Prior to my first meeting with the student, Dr. Guiffrida talked to us (in class) about the power of listening, and I think it greatly affected how my first meeting and future meetings will go.

He reminded us that we were there to provide support and to be someone who they could talk to. I remembered this when I first met with my mentee, and I felt myself understanding and really absorbing what the student was saying.  Often times when I meet with someone, I am more concerned with taking notes and what I am going to say next, that I never really listen to what the person is saying.  I never had an authentic presence nor an authentic dialog.  After spending most of my time with the student just listening, I feel as if I came away with a better understanding of everything that was said, without even taking one note.

Being able to get out of the classroom and practice what we read has really been one of my favorite parts of my experience at Warner so far. While books and readings can teach you a lot, you really don’t get the full experience until you’re out on the campuses practicing and using what you learned.

Article written by

Michael Shea

Michael is a full-time master’s student in the Warner School’s Higher Education program specializing in student affairs. A Buffalo, NY native, Michael graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in Brain and Cognitive Science in May 2009.

One Response

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  1. John
    John at |

    Great to see students applying what they learn, and learning while experiencing real life situations. Talking about widgets in the classroom may help explain some concepts, but actually being in the field allows you to experience the unpredictable human components.

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