Professors team up to show Colgate first years The ’Gate Way

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Some students adjust to college easily and naturally, while others struggle and even falter. A new online non-credit “course,” comprised of 13 short videos made by Colgate faculty, is designed to minimize the mystery about what it takes to succeed. The series also includes many student-produced video responses featuring current students and alumni.


“We believe that the students who succeed academically and socially right away are the ones who take their college experience into their own hands,” said Spencer Kelly, professor of psychology, “so our goal is to teach students how to do that from the start.” Kelly appears in The ’Gate Way series with Douglas Johnson, associate professor of psychology, and Yukari Hirata, associate professor of Japanese. All three study the science of knowledge acquisition, which is what drew them to this digital collaboration.

The team worked with several students, staff, and other faculty members to identify topics that are keys to student success, such as sleep and time management strategies, keeping an open mind, getting to know professors, and knowing when to ask for help.

First-year students and others in the Colgate community will access the videos through the edX platform, which is typically used to disseminate content to off-campus audiences. “The mode of delivery is novel, and so is our timing.” said Kelly. “Colgate typically teaches many of these lessons to students throughout their first year and beyond, and this new course is meant to complement, not replace, that. Introducing these lessons on video and over the summer before students even arrive will help make their learning really stick for when they get here.”

Alexandra Caudill ’13 worked on The ’Gate Way series for nearly a year as a Living the Liberal Arts Fellow. In addition to helping with scripting and scheduling, she organized dozens of students to record their responses to the various lessons, and produced a teaser video designed to attract first-year viewers to the series. “One innovation of The ’Gate Way is how it facilitates student-to-student mentoring,” she said. “College is so different from high school, and every college is different than the next, so the perspectives of our own students and alumni can go a long way in preparing first-years to be successful at Colgate.”