Students walk outside USCB’s main administrative and classroom building, Hargray, on the university’s Bluffton campus.

This past school year I had the privilege of teaching a class called University 101 to incoming freshmen business majors at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. The course is designed to help first-year students adjust to the university, develop a better understanding of the learning process, and acquire essential success skills. 

Throughout the semester we covered a myriad of topics, including college purpose, resources and involvement, goal setting, time management, study skills, critical thinking, learning styles, group dynamics, service learning, career exploration, and much more. 

This was a wonderful and diverse class. We had students from local communities, numerous states, and even from overseas. By the end of the semester, they had formed a bond through class interactions, group projects, and shared experiences.  They embraced the college environment and were off to a great start. 

With a semester of knowledge and experience behind them, I asked the class if they would offer advice for the next year’s incoming freshmen. Following is their list, which seems to me to be great advice not only for incoming freshmen but for anyone at any stage in life:

• Start strong: It’s easier to maintain grades than to play catch-up

• Overcome procrastination

• Plan your days/weeks; excel at time management

• Be early to everything

• Make connections ASAP with faculty, staff, campus resources

• Get out and meet new friends

• Communication is key (faculty, staff, classmates, roommates, home)

• Embrace challenges – they will make you stronger (You’ve got this!)

• Yeah, you gotta study

• Work hard / have fun

The classroom is traditionally viewed as a place where students go to gain knowledge from a teacher. This is short-sighted. Students bring to class a wealth of knowledge that can be shared among classmates as well as the teacher. This insight often significantly enhances the subject matter at hand. The logical extension is to share this information with those outside the classroom. 

Here at the USCB Center for Strategic Planning, we work with businesses and organizations to facilitate strategic plans, board meetings, workshops, retreats, and entrepreneurial assessments.  Through research and experience we strive to provide our clients with valuable information and processes to help them shorten the distance between now and “Wow!” 

Sometimes it takes hours sifting through volumes of media and material to find targeted information and advice to share with our clients. Often it comes from our own backyard, including from this freshmen class at USCB.

Tom Henz is an adjunct professor at USCB, as well as director and facilitator of the school’s Center for Strategic Planning.