SLS: Lessons in a New Academic Life

Ashley Orozco/Contributing Writer

If there is something that could spark up a conversation amongst freshman this past fall semester it was the dreaded required reading, “I’m Down” as well as the course that required it, SLS 1501.

From my own experience, both were talked about with a negative connotation. “I’m Down” was most definitely not a crowd pleaser and freshman Yaselis Pupo referred to the course as “a waste of time and money.”

SLS is the ‘first-year experience’ course required of all students entering the university as first-time freshmen as it is part of the Undergraduate Core Curriculum.

The UCC and course website describe it as follows:  “[SLS] introduces students to the University policies, procedures, and services; addresses academic and career choices; and enhances study and time-management skills”.

In theory, it sounds extremely beneficial to the first-time college student. But many didn’t see it that way.

“The idea of SLS isn’t so bad. However, the way the class is structured is very childish,” said freshman Carolina Moncion.

On the first day of my own SLS class, less than 20 timid faces filled the room. As we sat there each probably wondering what sort of person our professor would be, one brave soul decided to speak up and asked, “What did you guys think of the book?” Almost immediately the entire class was stirred up and thus began the bashing of “I’m Down” by Mishna Wolff.

If you’re unfamiliar with the book, it is a memoir about a young girl who tells of her experience of being white while growing up in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. Soon that isn’t her only problem as she is sent to a private school full of upper class white children where she doesn’t quite fit in either.

Our professor entered the room, discussed the syllabus and major projects and that was that. The course was true to the syllabus.

Because of that shared hatred for the book (which I’m sure was not the University’s intention), friendships were made. Because of the campus involvement papers, students were able to explore some of the activities the University offered that they might want not have otherwise bothered to look up. Because of the paper on “I’m Down”, students were shown the Center for Academic Success, a resource that also might have gone unnoticed in their four years at the University.

Many students complained about the course; however, a few saw the benefits it provided them with.

“[SLS] helped get more involved in the social life at FIU as well as ease into the world of college studies. It helped me create new plans for my future,” said freshman Kaitlynn Gutierrez.

Though SLS awards you just one little credit, the lessons taken from the course will help anyone in their time at the University.