Set Up for Success

December 06, 2023

By Laura J. Cole ’04 ’08MLS

A grid of students and professors at Rollins College
Photo by Scott Cook and Zach Stovall.

Hear from peer mentor Michelle Rodriguez ’24 in her own words about how the Rollins College Conference course—RCC for short—acts as a roadmap for your Rollins journey.

Michelle Rodriguez ’24
Michelle Rodriguez ’23 plans to pursue grad school in immigration law and start a nonprofit that prepares children in developing nations for higher education.Photo by Scott Cook.

I was so nervous—and excited—before my first day at Rollins. I didn’t know anyone, and I was a little worried about making new friends. I’m the first person in my family to attend college, so I couldn’t really ask my parents what to expect.

And then I walked into Dream in Spanish, my RCC class—it’s the first class you’ll have on your first day at Rollins—and met the people who changed my life. From helping me find my way to encouraging me to explore my passions, they supported me when I needed it. And they’re the reason I became a peer mentor, so I could help ease the transition for the next generation of Tars.

Here’s a closer look at how the RCC experience at Rollins is designed to jump-start the best four years of your life.

Spanish professor engages students in class discussion.
Photo by Zach Stovall.

Solid Foundation

“My RCC course was focused on improving our Spanish by watching and critiquing films in the language. After each class, we’d break down the topics the films covered and how they applied to life. That really helped develop my critical thinking skills by analyzing things in a very different way than I had ever done before.”

In addition to peer advisors for international students, all first-year students are paired with peer mentors who provide guidance on what classes to take, what social activities to consider, and what to expect, in general, as a student at Rollins.

Spanish professor Patricia Tome
Photo by Zach Stovall.

Faculty Guides

“Spanish professor Patricia Tome is my campus mom. I love her. During our weekly one-on-ones, she helped me realize what my true passion is by noticing what classes made me come alive when I talked about them. She’s the reason I’m triple-majoring in international relations, Latin American and Caribbean studies, and Spanish.”

RCC professors are not just teachers for one course. They serve as students’ faculty advisors throughout their first year, meeting regularly one-on-one with each student to talk about everything from their coursework and professional goals to their personal life. The sessions are intended to help students uncover their passions, find pathways to success, and form bonds that extend well beyond four years.

Peer Mentors

“Early on, I was having a hard time transitioning to college life. I was homesick and struggling to make friends on campus because it was during the pandemic. My peer mentor, Erika Wesch ’23, sat with me for hours and reassured me that all those feelings were completely normal—that it would take a little time, but everything would work out. Of course, she was right.”

Each RCC course has two peer mentors—second-, third-, and fourth-year Tars who can’t wait to pass along their Rollins know-how. They’re not simply a guide—they’ve recently walked in your shoes and understand the pressures you’re facing. Think of them as a cool older pal who will help you with everything from prepping for your first class presentation to deciding which meal plan to choose.

Students at Dave's Boathouse
Photo by Scott Cook.

Living and Learning Together

“It was nice living near my classmates. A couple of us would go jogging together or grab a meal at Dave’s Boathouse. They helped introduce me to a wide range of people on campus, who are now my closest friends.”

Most first-year students are placed in the same residential hall as their RCC classmates, so they have a support system built in right where they live. Whether it’s needing help understanding an assignment or making it easier to find friends in a new environment, this arrangement enables students to be surrounded by a community of people who not only share their interests but who are also going through the same transition.

A Rollins professor leads a discussion in an outdoor classroom.

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