I am a caucasian female on the Dean’s List who receives academic scholarship and federal grants.
My class entered with an average ACT score of 26 and 68 percent of the 1,019 in my class were in the top quarter percentile of their graduating high school class.
Oh, and if you dig through my files enough, you will discover that my name is Autumn Allison.
But what you won’t find is that I take photos for fun, used to play club soccer here at Belmont and my favorite color is blue.
Since my freshman year, I have slowly been pushed out of Belmont’s circle of caring. The entire Class of 2014, every class after and myself have become a quick-scan barcode, a string of numbers and letters.
Belmont has placed all their hopes, dreams and emphasis programs on the incoming classes. Everything is geared to helping them feel more at home in a new environment.
And I get why. Freshman year is rough. First time away from home with mandatory self-reliance can be a difficult transition. I remember it and the programs Belmont had in place helped me feel more welcomed into the wider Belmont community.
Then sophomore year happened.
I moved away from the hub of campus, lived in a dorm that housed sophomores, juniors and seniors, the constant check-ups from my Residence Assistant were no more. I wasn’t even considered part of the desired demographic for campus organizations. You realize quickly that after freshman year, the fact that you stayed is enough for the university stats.
But I also struggled in a lot of ways. It was harder to stay motivated and I often found myself overwhelmed with my responsibilities in a way I didn’t encounter the previous year.
No one at school was checking in on my well being every other day like the freshman year. If I didn’t leave my dorm for days, I’m not sure if anyone outside my roommate would have even noticed.
Thankfully I had the Vision and a really sweet worker at the Curb Cafe who was determined to see me through or else my bit of a sophomore slump would have been significantly worse.
Efforts have been made to help expand beyond the freshman-focused mindset with programs like the Growth and Purpose for Students program, or GPS, that began my sophomore year. However, a GPS sponsored series and the occasional survey is not enough.
Keep helping the freshmen because it works. The retention rates prove that. But something has to be done to maintain that same sense of care and to provide that same safety net for the upperclassmen.
I’m not bashing the efforts that the GPS program have made to bridge that gap for the sophomores. I’m not even suggesting there needs to be upperclassmen geared programs to make them feel as cared for as the freshmen, but rather that the university has a choice to make.
Students are more than the numbers on their folders and while some faculty and staff operate in a way that allows the students to feel like they as a person matters, there is still a disconnect between the procedural aspect of Belmont and the student body.
Now, Belmont, I can assure you Autumn Allison is much more interesting than B003****** is. It’s now up to you to find the balance between functionality and being a student-centered university.
After all a BUID doesn’t look as good on a degree.
Autumn Allison is a graduating senior journalism major.