Events In Class

October 21, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Biological Sciences Helps Freshmen Connect with Support

Biology Class of 2021, shot of more than 300 students

Biology Class of 2021

Over the last two months, Ohio University’s newest undergraduate Biological Sciences students have taken their first college exams, completed their first laboratory experiments, and submitted their first college-level assignments.

For some students, adjustment to college can be challenging. Biological Sciences has several programs to help support new students by providing them the tools to succeed at OHIO.

Helping new biology majors to succeed is a coordinated group effort that includes instructors, peer mentors, laboratory coordinators, and even textbook publishers.

“Our introduction team is very widespread,” said Ann LaComb, who serves as the department’s Pre-Professional Advisor. “We are making sure that first semester in biological sciences is all it can be. (Our students) are building the strength and foundation that they need to do well at the next level.”

From left, Ann LaComb and Melanie Tullett

From left, Ann LaComb and Melanie Tullett

Taking Advantage of Resources

“This is a strenuous and challenging program,” said Melanie Tullett, Student Success Advisor for Biological Sciences. “People don’t get through this alone. I’m trying to teach all of my advisees where their resources are and how to reach out to them.”

This semester, 330 undergraduate students joined Biological Sciences. Approximately 63 percent of incoming biological sciences students are women, and more than 20 percent of the students are people of color. These students have arrived to the university from 10 states. Additionally, two international students joined the program this year.

Tullett serves as an academic adviser to approximately 150 first-year biology majors. Tullet said she strives to connect all students—not only her formal advisees—with academic resources available through both the department and University College, including:

  • Multiple peer tutoring programs
  • Learning community courses
  • Supplemental 1-credit courses

LaComb, who was recently recognized as an Outstanding Mentor in the Cutler Scholars program, said these resources are critical for assisting new students who may be overwhelmed in their first semester and may not fully grasp what she describes as “the big picture.”

“It’s a huge undertaking, and they’re just at the bottom of the staircase,” LaComb said. “So we try to help them figure out the next steps, a little bit at a time so they can absorb it.”

LaComb coordinated a welcome event for first-year students at the end of August. Students had the opportunity to meet with department chair Dr. Robert Colvin as well as professors Dr. Soichi Tanda and Dr. Janet Duerr. Additionally, upperclass students from the Medical Student Association Pre-Med Club and the TriBeta Honors Society attended the event to discuss their experiences as students in the department.

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