Raising the Bar Helps New Students Transition into the University

Joseph Bonjawo- 1st-year Student

Updated 11/19/2020

The first Raising the Bar meeting occurred on Monday the 2nd of September, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. I was informed that the meeting would take place in a conference room within the Newcomb Hall. However, I unwittingly wandered within several segments of the Hall only to realize that the correct room for the meeting happened to be at the very end of the Hall. Fortunately, I managed to enter the appropriate location nearly ten minutes early. Upon entering the room, all members received coupons that contained a specific code. The consensus was that during the end of the meeting, Associate Dean Grimes would seize the tickets of each audience member and create a raffle that would award the recipients with a brand-new agenda. During the entirety of the meeting, Associate Dean Grimes orchestrated a presentation. The discussed content specifically entailed the methods of limiting one’s capacity for procrastination, as well as distinct tactics utilized to most effectively prepare for scheduled exams. 

During the presentation, Dean Grimes encouraged the audience members to speak amongst themselves. Students were instructed to disclose the one aspect of an individual’s schedule that hampers one’s capacity to complete assignments accordingly. The audience member with whom I communicated mentioned that she is an undecided first-year student and that her most detrimental source of procrastination happened to be her iPhone. The reason for this, as emphasized by the student, was that the activities on Instagram and Snapchat often proved to be considerably more enticing than preparing for an exam concerning derivatives in Calculus, for instance. An additional component of Dean Grimes’ presentation included the invaluable system of Cornell Notes, which was intended to facilitate one’s comprehension of a subject. Near the end of the meeting, Associate Dean Grimes collected the distributed coupons and announced them at random until there were no more agendas available. Miraculously, my ticket happened to be selected. 

During the second meeting of the 3rd of September, Professor Luftig of the English Department organized a presentation. The presentation was relevant to the management of essays and the significance of meticulous revision during the process of an essay’s construction. Two distinct phrases served as the foundation for the entire presentation: beginning early, and posing inquiries. Essentially, Professor Luftig encouraged students to commence their essays as promptly as possible due to the advantage of providing more opportunities to rectify unsuspected discrepancies in the rough draft. Moreover, students were very much persuaded by the professor to seek additional assistance in the Writing Center by requesting others to read their essays. The expectation was that students would obtain more insight regarding which specific segments are acceptable, and which excerpts must be revised. Near the end of the meeting, Professor Luftig provided contact information as well as a handout that contains resources associated with the Writing Center. Additionally, Associate Dean Grimes repeated the raffle system of the first meeting once again. However, I was not a recipient during this meeting.

UVA Higher Education Professional Christian P. L. West managed the final meeting of the 4th of September. The objectives of the presentation were to discuss first-year retention rates of African American students, to unveil the programs and initiatives erected on their behalf, and to summarize Mr. West’s initial transition to the University of Virginia. There are three specific catalysts for the retention of African American students. They include cultural spaces, faculty of color, as well as an updated curriculum that accurately documents the historical and contemporary narratives of African Americans at the University of Virginia. Mr. West mentioned courses such as Black Fire and Black Protest Narrative, in addition to events such as the Raising the Bar Tutoring sessions, Black Fridays, and most favorable of them all (albeit not necessarily classified as a formal event), Black Eating Time. 

Unlike the meetings of the 2nd and 3rd of September, the duration of this meeting’s presentation was relatively brief. As a result, the majority of the time that remained was utilized to address specific questions that pertained either towards Mr. West’s journey at the University of Virginia, or the unique aspects of the University. Seeing as the content of the presentation was scrupulously conveyed, and the responses towards the questions posed were sufficient, I did not inquire for more information. 

Associate Dean Grimes selected my coupon at the end of the meeting. However, considering that I received an agenda during the first meeting, I was instead awarded a bag that possessed the University of Virginia emblem. The most critical detail mentioned during this particular meeting was that the University of Virginia is one of a minority of universities that possesses an organization specifically dedicated to the personal enrichment of African Americans.