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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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OPINION | Spring Scholar blindspot

Taylor Fishman

I spent my first semester of college in London with other incoming freshmen from Tulane University and other universities all around the world — I was a Spring Scholar. 

A Spring Scholar is someone who is accepted into Tulane on the condition that they spend their first semester at another university. Tulane provides options for partner schools in London, Rome and Paris, as well as one in Barcelona exclusively for architecture majors. One could also choose to go to their local community college or another university whose transfer credits have been approved by Tulane. Many students choose to go to our neighbor school, Loyola University. 

Regardless of what auxiliary school students choose, they spend their first semester outside of the Tulane ecosystem, left wondering what the “real” college experience is like. This is not to say that the time spent elsewhere is without its own unique benefits. My classmates and I got to visit new countries, meet new people that we never would have crossed paths with otherwise and immerse ourselves in a foreign culture. However, the program is not without its flaws.

Tulane fails to make a substantial push in integrating Spring Scholars with the rest of the student body. The association a Spring Scholar can make with Tulane during their semester away are minimal. The only ways to connect to Tulane are to meet other Tulane students in the program or reach out to classmates online. 

The extent of administrative contact is one two-day visit from the Spring Scholar Ambassador to help register students for classes and take students out for a group dinner. This is where the Spring Scholar program has an opportunity to improve. While away, I felt no real connection to Tulane other than the knowledge that I would eventually arrive there in January. 

In London, my fellow Tulanians and I built our own sense of community without any input from Tulane, leading to a strong bond between us. However, this should not act as a substitute for support from Tulane. It was as though we were not Tulane students during our first semester, and once we arrived on campus in January, we were expected to know how things worked without any proper instruction. Throughout my fall, it seemed as though Tulane did not have a sense of responsibility to help Spring Scholars feel a sense of community while away. 

This is not to say that all or even most of us do not integrate once we arrive on campus, it just requires a lot of extra effort. While nothing can ever truly eliminate that initial discomfort that comes with arriving a semester later than most people, there are certainly steps the school can take to make that gap smaller. 

Other universities use a “buddy system” where students can volunteer to be paired with a new arrival to help them integrate. There are numerous clubs and groups that exist at Tulane almost entirely virtually, which means there would be no reason that a student across the globe cannot participate just as much as someone currently on campus. It may not be feasible to put a staff member in another country, but sending over our representative more than just once could go a long way. Tulane ambassadors could have met with us, gotten to know our interests and pointed us to places where we could find a sense of purpose once we moved in, as opposed to being left to do these things on our own.

The problem really comes down to effort. If Tulane made it seem like they wanted Spring Scholars to actually be part of the school, efforts would go beyond a two-day orientation when Spring Scholars move in. Implementing any of the aforementioned suggestions would help make Spring Scholars not feel like an afterthought, thrown on the other side of the world.

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