you refer to "the freshman 15," most people think you're talking
about the 15 pounds of unwanted body weight many young people gain
when they endure their first year in college.
At Elon, that
flabby image is morphing into a new college guide.
It all began
when students in a Spring 2005 senior-capstone class accepted Professor
David Copeland's invitation to test their skills, meeting the challenge
by planning, producing, printing and marketing a book for incoming
freshmen at Elon University in just over three months. Titled "The
Freshman 15: A Freshman's Guide to Looking Like a Sophomore," the
$15 book is now available at Elon's Campus Shop.
has been the talk of the campus community, and Fox18-TV News Charlotte
taped interviews in mid-May to produce a feature piece on the book.
As the group's
marketing materials tell it, "It began as a dream; 16 students on
a mission to create a masterpiece of educational literature in a
little under four months. Under the direction of a fearless leader
(Copeland), these 16 brave souls undertook a senior-seminar project
that was unheard of within the academic community: create, market,
publish and promote an educational guide to college."
was inspired by the popularity of generalized college guides that
fill shelf after shelf in bookstores.
"In the beginning,
we focused on evaluating our competition and selecting a target
audience," Corporate Communications major Rikki Nimmo said. "We
decided narrowing our book subject to Elon would allow us to use
our own resources and expertise as current students. From there,
our target audience was easy to identify as incoming Elon freshmen."
students realized their experience could be of value to new Elon
our book would stand out because it is a book for the future students
from the current ones," Julie Salvatore, a Corporate Communications
used surveys, focus groups and other information-gathering techniques
to determine the type of content the book should carry. The focus
group involved students from the Charlotte area who had been accepted
into Elon's fall 2005 entering class.
"I even went
undercover as a prospective student to see what sort of questions
they really have and what information they are really getting from
the admissions counselors," Nimmo said.
this information the students developed a plan for the content of
each of the 15 chapters and the style of the book. They also created
a printing-budget proposal and successfully presented it to officials
in the School of Communications, Elon's Student Government Association
and the Office of Student Undergraduate Research. Included in the
budget were hypothetical prices for publicity materials such as
posters, flyers, book signings and advertisement fees and the actual
costs for items such as printing, bar codes and an ISBN number,
something that a book must have in order to be sold at a store such
as Elon's Campus Shop.
funds from the above sources to print 350 copies of the 72-page
book. All profits from book sales will go to scholarships for students
attending the School of Communications.
include Preparation E, Dorm Life, Food, Communication, Transportation,
Finance, Academics, Clubs and Organizations, Athletics, Social,
Breaking the Bubble, Health, Study Abroad, Elon Law and Sex and
Relationships. The book also carries appendixes that give basic
facts about Elon, a guide to terms and places around Elon and maps
of different nightspots, restaurants and places students often visit
in Elon and Burlington.
The tone of
the writing is breezy and informative to suit the needs of the target
audience, which was pegged at being the 8,000 16- to 18-year-olds
who annually apply to try to gain one of 1,250 potential open spots
at Elon. "The
Freshman 15" also includes many useful lists that also employ
a twist of humor.
the book was a great experience, because it let all of the students
in our class use their own concentrations to help develop something
concrete that shows how much each of us learned at Elon," Nimmo
the project as proof of the type of talent Elon students cultivate
and grow in their years at the university.
capstone course is designed as a way to assess whether our students
have mastered the skills and concepts we teach," he said. "With
this project, the students created a great idea that made all of
them cooperate and use their respective knowledge. Corporate students
created a marketing plan. Journalism students edited the book. Cinema
students and broadcast students created the visuals. All of them
wrote chapters and helped shape the content of the book.
of the time restraints of the semester, the students had to work
together. Some, naturally, took leadership roles, but all of them
contributed. It is amazing to see how much teamwork and excitement
is generated when students create a project that, to them, is worthwhile