Aug. 15, 2014
In an innovative new class, North Texas freshman student-athletes learned about college life, as well as life outside of college.
DENTON - Not many classes at the University of North Texas require charitable service projects, or offer extra credit for taking a selfie. But then again, UCRS-1850 isn't your typical college course.
Meant to be an introduction to college life for North Texas student-athletes, this summer class fosters academic and social success by exposing Mean Green freshmen to new and exciting ways of becoming active and engaged citizens of the university community.
Oh yea, and it introduces them to the copious amount of homework a college freshman can expect.
From basketball star Tony Mitchell to soccer's newest freshman Rebecca Gleason, nearly every student-athlete since 2010 has taken the course, which is the pet project of the North Texas athletics academic staff; Cinnamon Sheffield, Maia Cudhea, Rachel McMullen, David Bekker and Chris Evans.
No cupcake, this a time-consuming undertaking complete with tons of reading and essay writing. Most of all, this class helps incoming freshmen understanding the level at which they will be graded in college.
"A lot of the kids have said that when they got into English-1310, the papers they had to write for that class were easier because of what they learned in our class," McMullen said. "We find that it really prepares them for that first semester of full-time enrollment."
A student-athlete's life can get pretty regimented. Strength and conditioning drills start at 6 a.m., followed by class until the early afternoon, practice until 6 p.m., and then it's time for dinner and study hall. By the time they get back to the dorm it's almost 10 p.m.
Lather, rinse and repeat - day after day.
That lifestyle can get pretty draining, so the North Texas athletic academic staff uses inventive ways to show student-athletes the resources available to them, as well as how the Denton can be pretty cool when they get some downtime.
"There is a world outside of the Mean Green Village," Cudhea said. "Some of their extra credit is simply for going places. We want them to find the computer labs on campus, and go to the Denton Community Market and UNT on the Square. Send me a selfie while you're there and I'll give you extra credit, because now you know that this great place exists for you."
With a schedule like that, it can be tough to remember that life exists away from sports, and that someday life will exist even after their playing career is over. UCRS-1850 spends time on money management, healthy eating and even career advice.
The staff partners with the University's counseling center to provide each student-athlete the Myers-Briggs personality assessment and the Strong Career Test. The idea is to match each student with a career they might be interested in, and a five-year plan of how to get there.
"Even if you go pro, and live the dream, there is going to be a life after sports," Cudhea said. "What are you going to do with yourself?"
To top it all off, the class' final assignment is a group service project. Whether they choose to spend a few hours at the local food bank, thrift store or nursing home, the academic staff hopes this was the most memorable portion of the course.
Our Daily Break soup kitchen, the Good Samaritan Society, Cottonwood Nursing Home and Special Olympics of Frisco are just a few of the charitable organizations that opened their doors to the Mean Green this summer, and in the process, they opened a few of the student-athletes eyes to the world.
"I felt like it was a nice experience, and it gave a new perspective on what college life would be like," said new Mean Green basketball forward, Jeremy Combs. "We wrote a lot of papers, but it was a great experience. My favorite part was getting to help a lot of special kids in our service project, and getting to know the university together."