New Year’s Resolutions are notoriously easy to make and hard to keep, whether it is to lose weight, give up smoking, listen better, spend less, study harder or have more fun (actually, that last one is quite easy).  When you are an undergraduate student, breaking out of your teenage years into adulthood and trying to work out who you want to be, what you want to be seen as and what you want to do with the rest of your life, it is the rare student who stays the same throughout the academic year, let alone during their undergraduate program.

One of the many great starts to the new year was seeing almost 100 of you attend the first Academic Huddle of 2019, listening to the feedback we have received from you and how we want to help improve the school still further.  Of the 4631 final grades approved from Fall 2018, there were 29% As, 39% Bs, 17% Cs, 8% Ds and 7% Fs. These grades are balanced across all levels of the program and all disciplines and are, I’m delighted to say, consistent with the grade distributions of previous years, showing that we are not (unlike many institutions) suffering from grade inflation.  Some more numbers we discussed in the Huddle were the 122 students now on Academic Probation, the 35 who are on their final semester before they would be dismissed (if they don’t get off Academic Probation) and the 18 who were dismissed at the end of Fall. These figures make sad reading, but for most of the students on Academic Probation, this is a ‘wake up call’ when they realise that only they can take responsibility for their actions, for their studies and for their future.  As young adults, they must realise that they can no longer rely on their parents to bail them out, their teachers to cover for them or their charm to negotiate their way to a better grade. It comes down to hard work and nothing else.

Another thing we discussed at the Huddle was the student feedback from the big Student Survey in November and the single biggest issue that you, our students, have complained about consistently over the past few years: other students.  Many of you feel that there are too many other students who don’t care, don’t pay attention, don’t engage in class, don’t work hard and who devalue the hard work the rest of you do. Now, whether those students are a large part of the Hult student body or a few outliers who make a disproportionately large impact on others, there is no dispute that some students do not engage in class the way they should, and allow their laptop screens to distract them from their classes in various ways.  We spent a considerable amount of time in the Huddle also going through all the research showing how disruptive laptops are to the student classroom experience and how handwritten notes are shown to be the best way of learning, with students then making notes of their notes on the laptop after the class.

As you all now know, all of the feedback, the research and the discussions have lead to us reframing the existing policy on laptops (which remains unchanged – the professor decides) so that the default position has changed from ‘use your laptops unless the professor asks you to put them away’ to ‘no laptops unless the professor allows them’.  From the feedback I have received from dozens of you, it has not significantly impacted you as many professors are asking you to use your laptops, but it helps those who are not engaging with the classroom to rethink what they should be doing with their time.

If you are one of them, I hope this is a bit of a ‘wake up call’ before anything more serious happens – and you start to truly engage with the full Hult experience.  And to all of you, I sincerely hope over the coming weeks and months you see a difference, with better discussions in the classroom, your teammates being better briefed in your team projects, and your own studies being more efficient.

A more positive side of our analysis of the Fall grades is that there are 137 students on the Dean’s List who will be invited to a social event and a couple of free workshops over the coming weeks. Congratulations to all of you!

And so, as you read this, settled into the Spring semester, embrace it all.  Engage with your classes, your professors, your colleagues and all the extracurricular activities.  Go to a careers workshop, listen to a speaker, go to cool events, join different clubs and societies and help us help you make Hult better and better.

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