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‘iRock’ program provides new experiences for freshmen first year students

October 15, 2009

UW-River Falls Student Health and Counseling Services is offering the iRock program for first year students this year, a program that meets once a month and is limited to 30 students.

This program is free and works to answer questions for students, such as “Who Am i,” “What do i Want,” and “What the #@$* am i doing here?”

“The program addresses basic areas of wellness that students struggle with and gives them the direction they need,” Jennifer Elsesser, personal counselor and creator of the iRock program, said. “We wanted the group to be small in order for students to develop relationships within their residence halls and it’s been wonderful.”

The iRock program started last fall as an “effort through grants,” Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of student health services, said. “[The iRock program] is engaging, interactive and fun.”

“We tried to avoid a classroom setting,” Elsesser said. “The sessions are very interactive and usually have themes with freebies for students.”

Students of the iRock program participate in a before and after survey concerning areas of wellness. According to the iRock 2009-2010 results, 91 percent of first year students have positive views of themselves, 91 percent were confident with choosing their majors and 77 percent were confident with managing stress, after completing the program.

There are seven different categories in the iRock program “that make up the many areas of wellness: iRelate, iLearn, iBelieve, iDo, iBalance, iMove and iCare,” according to the iRock booklet.

The first section, “iRelate,” gives students a chance to place themselves on a continuum of two extremes by asking them a series of questions in order to achieve self-awareness.

“[iRelate] is all about being comfortable with yourself and your relationships,” Elsesser said. “It gets students thinking about whether they are happy or not with their relationships.” The category concerns the students’ sense of belonging or loneliness.

The section discusses roommates, living with your best friend, Facebook, “frienemies,” relationships, love and sex. “Frienemies” are defined as “enemies disguised as friends” and “are draining you rather than bringing happiness to your life.”

One of Elsesser’s favorite topics in this category is “frienemies.” “These types of friends make us feel bad about ourselves. We need to seek out good friends who will help to better ourselves.”

Another topic presented in this section is a student’s self-worth in relation to dating. The booklet provides statements in order to help students to determine whether or not someone is worthy of their time. The “Standard Raising Statements” are “i will not go out with someone who: keeps me waiting by the phone, is not sure he wants to date me, makes me feel undesirable, has questionable morals/values, I don’t trust and is already in a relationship with someone else.”

The “iLearn” category focuses on inquiring and complacent. This section concerns UWRF and how to interact with professors. This section also questions the students’ thoughts and feelings about attending UWRF, goals for college, family support and gives steps on how to communicate with professors.

The “iBelieve” category questions students’ active or inactive activity with achieving inner, and spirituality. In this section four, “guiding principles” are given to change the way students think, including “Be Impeccable with Your World,” “Don’t Take Anything Personally,” “Don’t Make Assumptions” and “Always Do Your Best.”

The “iDo” category focuses on whether the student is satisfied or dissatisfied with some “panic inducing” questions such as, “What will you do with your major?” This section explains that a student’s major does not equal their future career.

“This year the credit union will be visiting to speak with students about how to have a budget and financial responsibilities,” according to Elsesser. “[iDo] also encourages students to get involved in the community.”

The “iBalance” category works to balance students’ positive or negative feelings while providing answers on how to deal with them. “Mood altering thoughts” are listed in this category such as, “Avoid making your decisions based on fear,” “Leaving your comfort zone” and “Define your defining moments.”

According to the iRock 2009-2010 survey, first year students felt their two greatest sources of stress were “school work” and “other people.” iBalance works to inform students how to deal with everyday stress.

The “iMove” category concerns being fit or unfit and compares “fat traps” with “feeling fabulous.” The three fat traps listed in this section are alcohol, avoiding exercise and eating fast food.

“Students often want to know what they can do if they don’t want to drink,” Elsesser said. “The program provides information about the on-campus activities and the city of River Falls so students have many alternatives.”

The last category is “iCare.” This focuses on whether the student is resourceful or wasteful, defines what it means to live green and gives information on ways to go green such as turning the lights off when leaving your room and using cold water when doing laundry.

According to the iRock 2009-2010 survey, first year students’ main reason for deciding to join the iRock program was because they wanted “to have a group that was just purely for fun that would teach [them] valuable skills to help [them] succeed in school.”

“The program is open to all first year students who are interested,” Elsesser said. “Students can visit the iRock Web site for a schedule of events or to register for the program.”