By Betsy Oda, Contributing Writer
College is a time to leave home, be independent and forge new relationships. Though many leave the places they grew up, some students are being welcomed home – to their professor’s houses. Because of Asbury University’s intimate campus and class sizes, students and professors are able to interact and create more meaningful connections outside the classroom.
Gay Holcomb, professor of psychology, often teaches classes that involve watching educational videos. Whenever her class size allows it, she invites her students over to eat a home-cooked meal, watch the video and discuss it over dessert. Professor Holcomb has enjoyed this tradition for the past 12 years.
When professors invite students into their homes, the work of building meaningful relationships begins to happen. Rather than simply being one face in a sea of hundreds, Asbury students are genuinely seen and known by their professors.
“When I have students over they see a different side of me outside the classroom, and I get to see a different side of them in a less structured setting,” she said. “And they get to meet my cats!”
Freshman Allie Howard was able to experience the benefits of Asbury’s smaller class sizes in the form of an invitation from her chemistry professor, Malinda Stull, to study at her home.
“She always goes the extra mile to make sure we actually understand the material,” Howard said. “Having [the chemistry class] over to her house showed us how much she truly cared.”
Stull explained her reasoning behind inviting students into her home. “Working through some of the challenging aspects of a course in a more casual setting creates stronger bonds,” she said.
This unique aspect to Asbury’s community is made possible largely due to smaller class sizes. According to Asbury’s website, the university’s “impressive 13:1 student/faculty ratio creates a more personal learning environment and allows students to build mentoring relationships with their professors.” When professors invite students into their homes, the work of building meaningful relationships begins to happen. Rather than simply being one face in a sea of hundreds, Asbury students are genuinely seen and known by their professors.
Professor of English Devin Brown enjoys the chance to have students over and recognizes how Asbury’s size contributes to this opportunity. “Sitting around our dining room table or out on our deck with students who are a joy to be with is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job,” he said. “The fact that these classes are not huge allowed me to do this; both are between 10 and 15 students, which is about as big as our house can hold.”
“Asbury’s smaller size definitely contributes to community,” Holcomb said. “I think that’s one of the best things about teaching at a smaller school… If this were a large university like UK, we wouldn’t be able to get to know our students nearly as well.”