On Monday, the University of Central Florida’s eighth annual Study Union reached its 100,000th student.
Since its inception in fall 2008, the Study Union event has served to assist students with 24-hour academic support in the days leading to final exam week.
This program was developed by the Student Union and the Student Academic Resource Center to ensure a safe, healthy environment for students to relax and prepare for what can prove to be a stressful time of year.
Peer tutors and SI leaders keep track of the students who attend each final review session. In its first academic year, 2008-2009, Study Union had a total of 3,765 participants.
The past 2015-2016 academic year had a total of 24,506 participants—almost a 551 percent increase over an eight-year span.
“Our goal is to be intentional about meeting students’ needs for final exam preparation by providing them with the best holistic support possible in a safe and comfortable environment,” said Rebecca Piety, director of the SARC and University Testing Center at UCF.
In collaboration with several UCF departments such as the Student Union, SARC, SGA, Knights Helping Knights Pantry, UCF Foundation Parent and Family Fund, UCF Police and the Recreation and Wellness Center, students were given multiple resources and support over the six-day span leading up to their final exams.
“My biggest struggle would be to stay motivated and focused. It can be difficult finding a good environment to study in on campus, and home can be quite distracting,” senior computer engineering major Rubba Ashwas said.
In 2013, the Office of Student Involvement joined the Student Union and SARC, the primary collaborators for the event, and added the live streaming component which allows students to receive academic support at their leisure from any location in which they have internet access.
Recording the livestreamed sessions for later viewing has allowed students the ability to participate at their convenience. In turn, the number of students who participated in the virtual viewing sessions in the 2015-2016 academic year doubled that of the students who attended the review sessions in person.
“Each of the collaborators contributes in their area of expertise or primary function to make Study Union a truly unique event that facilitates a strong learning environment, assists comprehension through academic support, promotes emotional and physical wellness, and offers a safe quiet space to focus on final exams,” said Patricia Hartley, SARC Coordinator of Tutoring and Outreach Programming at UCF.
Key resources that were offered consisted of quiet study rooms, group study spaces, laptops, tutoring, test review sessions, massages and exercise classes. The SGA continued to provide free printing, scantrons and blue books, while also promoting “Random Acts of Kindness” by passing out pre-packaged snacks as well.
The SARC, Student Union and OSI coordinate several meetings throughout the semester to ensure events that take place during the Study Union are done so with UCF students in mind.
“Communication and proactive planning are key to the success of Study Union,” Piety said. “The transformation is a seamless process that’s made possible through our continuous partnerships and collaborations.”
At approximately 3:10 p.m. the vice president of Student Development and Enrollment Services, Maribeth Ehasz, held a brief interruption in the Student Union Key West Ballroom, where there was a surprise sweepstakes style celebration to commemorate the 100,000th student served.
“We are thrilled to be here to recognize the 100,000th student to attend a SARC Study Union session,” Ehasz said. “Since fall 2008, SARC tutors and SI leaders have dedicated thousands of hours to empower their peers to ace their finals.”
Ehasz then went on to thank the groups involved in making the Study Union a success before presenting student Alexandra Chou, with a special certificate and a Study Union gift bag in honor of the celebration.
Preliminary numbers for the Study Union event show that there were 4,750 students who participated in a SARC final review session either on-line utilizing the LIVE streaming option or in person.
The turnout for the LIVE streaming component was double that of the last two semesters with 760 participants.
“SARC is on pace to exceed its total number of students served through final review sessions this semester, which is more than 12,000 students each semester this past spring and fall,” Piety said.
Finalized numbers for the event reflecting total turn out will be available next week.
Originally published Dec. 10, 2016.