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Reconnecting with my freshmen students

This week I invited my freshman students from last fall to meet for pizza.
I wasn’t sure how many would show up: we are a commuting campus,
and I had not seen many since we parted in December. Much to my
surprise, about half of the class showed up (12 of 24; 8 females and 4 males)
Three students excused themselves due to work.

The reunion was joyful. Some students are taking classes together this semester.
Others have established long-term friendships. Those who had not met since fall
seemed animated chatting with each other. Several expressed that they
were not  enjoying college: tough classes; difficult profesors; non-interesting
courses. One mentioned that he is considering to drop college; the top 
student said that she is transferring to a college closer to home.
All of them are woking at least 15 hours per week; a couple work 35 hours.

I asked students about the seminar experience last term, and benefits of the 
IF discussions. Most voted that I keep them for next term, but address more
varied topics. None could tell me what skills they had gained from it. One
suggested that I find ways of making everyone participate in the small groups.

Although the insights were brief, they suggest that next term I have to
make a better job helping them expand topics; monitor more closely
the group dynamics and encourage non-participants; articulate more
clearly (raise awareness of) the benefits the might derive from IF.