Aug. 25, 2010
UCLA's freshmen football student-athletes arrived on campus this June excited to begin their academic and athletic careers. They quickly realized that they would not have to do so alone. All incoming scholarship freshmen football players are placed into one of two intensive, year-long academic support programs developed and run by the Academic and Student Services unit in the Department of Athletics.
The Community of Learners Program (COL) and the Directed Learning Program (DLP) were developed to help support freshmen student-athletes in their transition from high school to the university atmosphere. The programs emphasize time management and provide a structured learning environment aimed at building a strong academic foundation that will carry over during the rest of their UCLA career.
Freshman running back Malcolm Jones noticed the benefits during UCLA's first six-week summer session: "COL helped me a lot. It forced me to get my homework done, especially during the summer when you really want to relax. COL helps you get your work done and get that extra work in."
Both the Community of Learners and the Directed Learning Program find strong influence in the late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden's Pyramid of Success. The staff strives to instill Coach Wooden's values into its student-athletes through education and practical life experiences. Three full-time staff members, seven part-time academic mentors and numerous tutors provide academic support for these student-athletes throughout their entire freshmen year.
Students meet in a structured learning environment twice a week working on applicable coursework and focusing on skill building and utilization of campus resources. In addition to these structured sessions, the student-athletes are paired with an academic mentor or learning specialist for a weekly meeting.
The student-athletes work intensely on proactive time management, organization, note-taking, and the development of close reading and analytical writing skills, which are imperative for collegiate success. All COL and DLP student-athletes also receive multiple hours of individual and small group tutorial support provided by Covel Tutorials. The COL and DLP Programs have continued to evolve over the years and are entering the sixth year of working with UCLA football freshmen.
"Tutoring and mentoring helped so much because it gives us structured time where we can focus on getting help for our classes when we have so much going on," said freshmen linebacker Aramide Olaniyan. "The support this summer definitely helped me achieve better grades in my classes and will be very helpful in the fall."
"The support services will play a big role in helping me out in the fall with practice, travel and games," said Jones. "They will keep me on top of due dates, tutor support and knowing the benefits of talking with professors. It will really help me succeed in the classroom."
Both academic support programs also emphasize utilizing campus resources such as the campus libraries, the UCLA Career Center, and Counseling and Psychological Services. COL and DLP often host campus speakers and former Bruin student-athletes with a positive message to share with the freshmen. In line with the core philosophy of Academic and Student Services, COL and DLP strive to develop each of the student-athletes into a self-sufficient, independent learner and a positive representative for the University and UCLA athletics.
The programs continue to thrive. This year's freshmen achieved a combined GPA of well over a 3.0 during the summer.
"We all feel like we have an extra five people wanting us to succeed," said Tevin McDonald, a freshmen defensive back. "We know we have great support to go to that is willing to help us with open arms."