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Increasing Student Engagement Sophomore Year Through "OHC in ECA-10"

Increasing Student Engagement Sophomore Year Through "OHC in ECA-10"

ECA-10 students in Memphis

The freshman experience is a central focus for all universities as the transition into collegiate life is a pivotal moment for first-year students. Then, as students transition into their junior and senior years the focus for internships, scholastic opportunities, and applications for professional schools is intensified, as their time at the university is coming to a close. Often innately forgotten within this process are sophomores, as they have already adapted to the college environment and are loosely being pressured for post-graduate plans.

This accidental oversight was brought to light by Dr. Granger Babcock, Ogden Honors associate dean and Laville Honors House rector, that led to a partnership with LSU Residential Life. Together, they created a pilot year Honors College sophomore-only living facility within the East Campus Apartments (ECA) Building 10. 

When asking Babcock about his motivations behind establishing this program, he said that he wanted to intentionally focus on the sophomore experience and create a natural transition from the academic living environment similar to that offered to Ogden Honors freshmen through Laville Honors House. 

“We are also trying to figure out more ways to get students to finish and write a thesis, so this sophomore community is focused on that and getting lined up with a mentor and plan,” Babcock said.

Babcock and the staff wanted to increase the statistics of students continuing with the Honors College to the point of completing a thesis while establishing mentor relationships within sophomore year. Hence, OHC in ECA-10 was born.

“Research has shown that the sophomore year is a pivotal time in a student’s college journey,” Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle said. “This isn’t just a retention issue for the Honors College – we want to get these outstanding students launched into their senior colleges and starting the process of research, inquiry and discovery.”

ECA-10 is not just a mere living space; it is an environment where innovation and academia thrive through programs planned by Babcock and Residential Life for its residents. This year, 37 students are continuing in this close relationship with the Ogden Honors College. As described by Exquisite Williams, one of the Communication Studies sophomores participating in the program, all of her peers are like-minded, driven individuals who provide support through sharing these academic experiences and pressures at the same time. 

ECA-10 is rich in practicality with its central location on campus. For Biological Science sophomore Zoe Long, living in close proximity of her classes and other Honors College biology majors was a driving force in her desire to live in ECA-10. She, along with her fellow residents, wanted the opportunity to easily discuss class topics and find study groups inside the comfort of her living environment, much like the studying opportunities presented in Laville. For Environmental Engineering sophomore Everett Craddock, ECA-10 is holistically ideal.

“I think the combination of proximity to campus and being surrounded by people that are passionate about academics is a great environment to live in,” Craddock said. “In ECA, there are people in my classes close by who are willing to get together to study, which is a great resource.”

Staying true to the four themes of the Ogden Honors College (service, study abroad, internships/research, and thesis), the staff of ECA-10 has composed programs for the residents within the last few weeks that include informational sessions on studying abroad and finding faculty mentors for their senior theses. In continuation of these academic advising and mentorship programs, highly esteemed faculty members of senior colleges are coming throughout the semester to have dinner with the ECA-10 students. These faculty members include Dr. Cynthia Peterson, the dean of the College of Science; Clint Wilson, the Director of the Center for River Studies within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Dr. Emily Elliott, a professor within the Department of Psychology. Alongside these personalized dinner opportunities, Ogden Honors College alumni, who are now LSU faculty members, have been invited to talk about their theses in order to give the students a firmer grasp and support on the process of writing their theses.

While ample in its academic enhancements, ECA-10 simultaneously strives toward helping students socially flourish in productive and educational ways. Recently, ECA-10 residents embarked on a trip to Memphis, Tennessee where they were able to visit the National Civil Rights Museum and the Mud Island. They then got to visit an 800-meter-long scale model of the Mississippi River. The students were able to tangibly see where the river begins and empties into the Gulf of Mexico while also having the opportunity to walk in the scale river and observe the location of LSU and Baton Rouge in reference to the river’s path.

For Craddock, the Memphis trip was especially insightful, as he was able to connect with his professor Dr. Wilson outside of the traditional academic setting. Craddock also found the Civil Rights Museum to be a necessary educational opportunity, as he was not thoroughly taught about the movement in high school and is unable to take classes on it within his strict engineering regime, thus allowing flexible enlightenment through the trip.

Although only two months into the semester, ECA-10 residents have been privileged with experiencing a multitude of socially and academically enhancing programs planned by Honors College professors. Next semester, residents will be able to look forward to a focus on resume building and internship application initiatives. Developing and continuing ECA-10 takes great effort from Babcock and his team while working closely with Residential Life in evaluating the success of the pilot program, therefore leaving the future outcome of and adjustments to the program unknown for now. However, when the three students were asked if they would recommend this program to Ogden Honors freshmen, all three deemed it as an amazing and worthwhile experience.

ECA-10 allows an intentional and necessary focus on sophomores’ academic and living experiences to better guide them in their scholastic and social success within their years at the Ogden Honors College. For more information, contact Dr. Granger Babcock at .