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How Juniata Helped Me Get into Dental School

Maggie Peck
Maggie Peck ’21 Biology/ Pre-Dentistry POE

When I was in high school, I realized that I wanted to be a dentist. However, I did not have the slightest clue how I was going to get there. The journey to become a dentist involves a variety of steps. Dental schools are competitive, looking for well-rounded, compassionate, insightful candidates. Before you plan to matriculate into dental school, you must take the Dental Admission Test (DAT), score in the competitive range, and apply to schools of interest. If a school likes your application and feels that you are qualified, they will offer you an interview to determine if you are the right ‘fit’ for that particular school. Once admitted, you must complete another 4+ years of schooling in order to become a dentist. Daunting, right? As a high schooler, I was overwhelmed.

At Juniata College, I was fortunate to receive ample guidance which made this process simpler. In my first semester, I met with Dr. Jim Borgardt who was assigned as my academic advisor.  Dr. Borgardt advises all of the pre-dentistry students at Juniata, which means that he knows a lot about the admissions process for dental school. We meet every semester, helping to track my progress and keep me on pace for my goals. He also is an awesome guy who has made my overall experience at Juniata a great one.

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What I wish I knew – Jules Slater ’21

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

This blog post started as a “What I wish I had known before starting college,” but after staring at my screen for longer than I’d like to admit with no ideas popping forward, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing I really and truly wish I had known.

Some may say that they wish they had known who their friends were going to be, or how to study for a college exam, or how to pay their taxes, but I truly believe that everything I’ve learned between my senior year of high school and my senior year of college have shaped me into who I am. I would not be the person I am today without these formative learning experiences. Sure, it would have been so much easier on my GPA had I known how to study for a college exam, but learning through actually doing  is what taught me things about myself that I didn’t know before and taught me how to deal with failure.

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Reflecting on my first semester during COVID-19

Madison Wrightstone
Madison Wrightstone ’23

I was in Florida on spring break with my teammates when we all first learned that we would not be returning to campus for two weeks. We had no idea at the time that we would not see each other again in person for almost six months. This is not a wildly unique experience I had – high schoolers and college kids alike missed out on their senior years, sport seasons, time with family members and friends, and the long list of experiences a person has while they are still young. The pandemic we have all been trudging through for the last year has put life on hold in so many ways, and yet life at Juniata has not become all that different as many of us thought it would.

I was ecstatic to come back to campus for in-person learning. Attempting to learn from a computer screen in my childhood bedroom hours away from campus for the second half of the spring 2020 semester was neither productive for me academically nor for my mental health. When I found out that Juniata was expecting to make a full return to campus, I – along with every single person that I told from home – was doubtful to say the least. How would a small liberal arts school in the (in what they like to say) “middle of nowhere” be able to control local outbreaks without endangering staff or the local community? How did we expect college kids to listen to all the rules in place? I bet we’d be on campus for three weeks max (which was very noticeable in what I chose to pack). And for maybe the first time in my life, I was very happy to be wrong about something. We were able to stay completely in person for the entire semester!

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Black Boxes: An English Professor Reflects on Juniata’s First Hy-Flex Semester

Laura Feibush
Dr. Laura Feibush, Dept. of English

Here at the close of 2020, it’s fitting to reflect on Juniata’s first semester of hybrid-flexible learning. I’m sure I’m not alone in my feeling that hoo boy. It has been a ride.

In general, I’ve been inspired by the innovation that our COVID-induced, hy-flex fall semester has occasioned. Faculty, leadership, and administration alike have asked themselves: “What really is the essence of education?” They’ve acted on the answers with revamped and revised digital pedagogies, mental health Mountain Days, and the planning of a virtual Bailey Oratorical in the spring.

In addition to many positive developments, naturally I’ve also heard the frustrations of my colleagues. Chief among them is the problem of the black boxes: when, during Zoom classes, students opt to turn off their cameras, leaving the instructor confronted by a grid of named rectangles.

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How I learned to ask for help early and often

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

One of the best things about academics at Juniata, as many will attest to, is the two-adviser system. Assigned to you upon the start of your freshman year, you’ll have an academic adviser, someone who knows the ins and outs of your POE, as well as a mentor, someone who is there to guide you through your college experience. The pros of the two-adviser system are abundant if you know how to use it.

I believe that I began my first year at Juniata at a disadvantage to many of my peers, simply because I was unaccustomed to asking for help. In high school, I felt like there was a stigma associated with receiving help from teachers. When I began college, I tried to figure things out on my own instead of going to my advisers for help. So for my first two semesters, I relied on myself to schedule my courses, understand my POE requirements, and learn what each requirement meant and how to fulfill it.

It wasn’t until my second year at Juniata, when I decided to change my POE, that I finally admitted to myself that I would need help if I was going to be successful at Juniata.

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