A rigorous three-week summer program, EQUIP prepares incoming first year students for the workload and new environment Eastern University provides for them in the fall. Throughout the program, the twenty-five students who came to EQUIP attended five classes every day and participated in study hours every evening. On the weekends, students and staff enjoyed activities, such as a pool party, bowling and volunteering. I was one of two writing assistants in EQUIP; there were also five peer counselors and together we made up the peer staff.
As peer staff, it was our job to act as TAs and RAs. Our goal was to facilitate a productive learning environment, to help the students adjust to a more independent lifestyle and to build relationships with the students. As we began the program and the students began their classes, the other writing tutor and I realized many of the students were not confident in their writing abilities.
Students often said, “I hate writing” or “I’m not a good writer.”
As a peer staff, we aimed to change this attitude, not only about writing, but also about their academic potential overall. Over the course of the weeks, we could see the narrative change.
The students who may have been insecure at the beginning of the week began to gain confidence in their academic skills. Through writing, they could express their thoughts, opinions and ideas; and there were people around them delighted to listen to these expressions. When the program ended, the students and staffed had bonded incredibly with one another. Many students performed extremely well and even exceeded their own expectations.
The last day was a bittersweet one, for myself at least. Bitter because I built genuine friendships with the students and the other staff and even though I knew I would see them in the fall, it was difficult to say goodbye. But it was sweet because I could see immense growth in the students’ academic skills and their self-confidence. I believe EQUIP prepared them for most of the challenges they will face during their first year in college and I would highly recommend the program to students interested in attending Eastern.