Behind the Scenes of CORE101

Written by Janika Grimlund.  Media by Momoka Murata.

To my CORE 101 students:

Photo of classroom
Photo of classroom. Taken by Momoka M.

CORE 101. Otherwise known as the bane of a freshman’s existence. Does this sound familiar to you?

New Student Orientation. Musty room. Sweaty bodies. Girls in their best “I want to look great, but not like I’m trying too hard” outfit. Nervous parents. And an overly, enthusiastic professor. CORE 101.

Eventually parents leave and this professor starts assigning things that resemble high school assignments. “Why am I here again?” The assignments seem random and meaningless. “I have better things to do.” And class discussion can be painful. “I don’t even know these people.”

Hopefully this was not your experience of CORE 101, or any class, as a matter of fact. But as a senior, I have heard these meanderings about CORE 101 on many occasions and vocalized them myself.


Two years ago, I accepted a position as a Student Assistant for CORE 101 professor Jessica Estevez. In contrast to my own experience in CORE 101, working behind the scenes of the class gave me a new appreciation… and dare I say… love for CORE 101.

So here are 5 things you may not have realized about CORE 101, that make it not quite so bad:


  1. Connections— One of the purposes of CORE 101 is to help new students make connections. As an SA one of my jobs was to help students connect with resources on campus. Maybe your professor stressed going to the tutor or academic adviser. Maybe Georgann Kurtz-Shaw came and spoke about library resources. Maybe you got extra credit for taking your resume to Career Services. These things were built into CORE 101 to connect students with resources that they would need later in college. Think of CORE 101 like a trial run for the rest of college.
Photo of CORE101 class students
Photo of CORE101 class students. Provided by Janika Grimlund.
  1. Friendships— Support from your peers is essential in college, a main goal of CORE 101 is to create space for a diverse group of students to develop relationships with each other. This is the purpose of all those ice breakers, group work, and the NSO trip. It me joy when I see my students hanging out with each other outside of class context, and even beyond the semester. My work was successful! Do you have any friends that you met in CORE 101?


  1. Support—I like to explain CORE 101 as “home room.” As an SA, I was asked to be available for students to ask any questions they had about classes, or work, or God, or relationships, etc. I did not always have the answer, but I knew where to go to find out. Unlike, other General Education requirements or major specific courses, CORE 101 encompasses college academics as a whole. The role of the student is to take advantage of that support.


  1. Development— I believe that no one comes to college, completely ready for college. We want you to discover several things about yourself as a student through this course: We want you do learn the things that you suck at. We want you to learn the things that you excel at. And we want you to learn how to grow in each of those areas.   College is a vital time of growth, but it is more difficult if you are not aware of where you need to grow or how to do it. Some of us show up ready to live with 1500 other emerging adults, while some of us need a little help launching into the social world. Some show up with strong study skills and high GPAs, while others of us barely made it to high school graduation. CORE 101 wants to help lessen the gap between these areas of underdevelopment for our students.
Photo of library
Photo of Library. Taken by Momoka M.

Believe me. Though I am a behind the scenes worker, I have also been on the other side of seemingly pointless assignments and a class that is too early in the morning. But CORE 101 has been a platform for meaningful friendships, academic growth, and personal development for myself and for my students as well.  (They might disagree, but I get paid to notice their progress.)

I love you guys!




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