Staff Editorial: Every Lawrentian should take UNIC 117

Many Lawrentians have gone through the American school system. Unfortunately, this is essentially a cookie cutter system that emphasizes test-taking ability, labels students, and not much else. As a result, students have emerged feeling as if their worth is tied to their academic success. Many Lawrentians melt down over a grade that doesn’t match their standards. Some students believe that they aren’t made to succeed in one way or another because of this flawed system. All too often students have experienced academic stress to the point of mental strain or even breakdown.

Kathryn Zoromski, Associate Dean of Academic Success, has seen and understands these dilemmas. While teaching at Arizona State, she designed a course to help students on academic probation. She realized that there were things in the course that students who were not on academic probation would benefit from. When she came to Lawrence, she incorporated the class here as well under the name called Cognitive and Affective Theories in Practice (UNIC 117). According to the course catalog, “This course is designed to introduce students to cognitive and affective theories that can positively impact success in a university environment. Integration of current theory and evidence-based research allows students to study and apply effective strategies applicable to their own academic lives.”

Many people are hesitant to take it because they think it is a remedial course or a study skills class. Zoromski explained, “It doesn’t matter where you are in your academic life…or what major you’re in…it’s applicable…to every student on this campus.” Students enrolled in the course come from all backgrounds, varying school experiences, and have a wide array of GPAs. This shows that the information used and time spent together can be valuable to any student.

The class is offered for three credits, three times a term with either Student Success Specialist Imelda Gledhill or Zoromski as the professor. There are two classes a week, occasional readings or videos to watch and a prompted journal due essentially every class period. While the work is minimal, the benefit is massive.

Students who have taken the course before have since lauded how much they have grown. One of Zoromski’s former students, sophomore Olivia VanSlyke, explains, “UNIC 117 challenged me to face the root causes of my academic and personal struggles and taught me real skills to face them.”

Sophomore Jason Bernheimer reflected, “It’s hard to say anything other than, ‘it was life changing.’ It really makes you re-examine all your habits and practices, and enlightens you in ways you’d never think. It informs everything you do in a better way than ever before.” He also added that he took the class during his freshman year, which he recommends to others. 

The class is essentially time set aside for you to reflect and learn about what is holding you back from reaching your full potential. The entire term is focused on creating up awareness. She will hold up the mirror and offer structured support in the course if there’s something you want to change. Zoromski emphasized, “You can’t change what you can’t see.”

For those not enrolled in the course, but still interested in these services, Zoromski and Gledhill both offer individualized academic counseling through the CAS. In these sessions, students can meet with an academic counselor to talk about prioritizing, imposter syndrome, and anything else that may be standing in their way of achieving their goals. Academic counseling can support growth in these areas, as well as connect students to additional resources.

Every student could benefit from taking this course. Whether you’re a freshman or a fifth year, you will learn skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life. At the end of the day, it is our job to put the work in to better ourselves, and this class sets the stage for you to do so. If you have room, you should consider taking this class, as you never know what kind of things you might learn about yourself.