College Unlocked: Part Class, Part Support System
At Franklin & Marshall College, there’s no one-size-fits-all rubric.
“Some people are on the scenic route to discovery, and some people are on the highway,” said rising junior Opeyemi Olarogba, of Lagos, Nigeria.
Olarogba dipped his toes in biology and public health before realizing anthropology better suited his interests. But at times, the “scenic route” left him feeling a bit lost.
“College Unlocked” – a new initiative at F&M – gives students like Olarogba a chance to regain academic confidence.
Launched in spring 2023, the half-credit class is held one evening a week and focuses on developing leadership skills, understanding and managing stress, and providing a vision for students.
“I think of it as a course for students who feel lost in the rigor and the expectations to be doing everything all the time. We're trying to help them find their path,” said Amy Faust, learning support specialist.
“Some people are on the scenic route to discovery, and some people are on the highway."Opeyemi Olarogba '25
Faust notes that College Unlocked is not a remedial or skill-building class. Rather, “It's meant to be an opportunity to pull students together to find community,” she said.
Many participants in the course connect and motivate each other outside classroom hours.
“I'm a very introverted person, so I tend to keep all I'm going through to myself. But being in that class has exposed me to the shared experiences that we all go through in college,” Olarogba said.
Classmate Brennan Havey shared that sentiment.
“It's reassuring to know that there are other students struggling with the same things. This class gave us a platform to talk about it and really have discussions that were meaningful,” said Havey, a rising junior from Lampeter, Pa.
Havey commuted to F&M his first semester and initially struggled to balance academics, social life and an off-campus job.
“I came in with a very narrow mindset of what college was going to be for me. It seemed purely academic. But now, I've realized that there's so much more to it,” Havey said.
“It's not necessarily just facts or memorizing, but the experiences I'm having,” he added.
After moving to on-campus housing, Havey found it easier to adjust. He’s excited to continue pursuing pre-law courses in fall.
Olarogba looks forward to bridging his interests in anthropology and medicine.
“I'm still trying to figure out the best path forward, but it's good to know that I've come this far. I've achieved a lot,” he said.
“I came in with a very narrow mindset of what college was going to be for me. It seemed
purely academic. But now, I've realized that there's so much more to it."Brennan Havey '25
Meet the Instructors
“College Unlocked” was designed by Amy Faust, learning support specialist, and Kabi Hartman, director of the program in support of academic excellence and senior teaching professor of English. They received input from the Student Academic Success group and College House deans and dons.
“College Unlocked envisions academic advising as a holistic process grounded in trust, community and relationship. In that context, we examine what college means to us and what our goals for ourselves are during our four years in college,” Hartman said.
College Unlocked features another benefit: The chance for upperclassmen to assist as course preceptors.
Yuhui "Hidy" Li '23 led portions of College Unlocked before graduating in May.
“It has been amazing just learning from Kabi and Amy in this class,” said Li, an anthropology and psychology double major from Beijing.
“I feel like those experiences really helped me. I still get nervous, but I love it when students give me feedback. For example, ‘I like what you were talking about,’ or, ‘I really learned something.’ That's why I want to go into education. I love being able to positively influence everybody, even just a little,” Li said.
Li will put her precepting to practice at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.
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