While commitment to academic excellence is a staple of the Early Entry Pharmacy Program, a commitment to providing Early Entry Pharmacy Students (EEs) with a true “experience,” academically, professionally and personally, is at the heart of what we strive to provide to students.
With nearly forty different “early entry” or “early assurance” pharmacy programs offered throughout the country, each guaranteeing students in their respective programs with eventual seats in their professional programs, you’re probably thinking, “So what is it that makes UM’s Early Entry Program (EEP) so unique?”
At a university known for providing a genuine, “personal touch” and a “family” feeling, the EEP exemplifies those same ideals to an even greater degree. As students so aptly put it, there is a real “phamily” feel that forms amongst those in the EEP.
From students, faculty and staff composing hand-written letters to EEP applicants to student mentors establishing relationships with incoming students (EE1s) throughout the summer to us hosting an EEP Welcome Weekend program for new students and their parents each fall, we strive to get to know our students (and their families) and engage them in all that we offer before they even begin their first semester as college freshmen.
Having worked to set the tone ahead of those scary, first few weeks of college life, we immerse our new students (EE1s) in a semester-long “Ole Miss Experience” course taught by myself (EDHE 105). While the course focuses upon crucial high school-to-college transition topics like time management, newfound independence, drugs and alcohol, campus safety, study and test-taking skills and much more, these EE1-only sections of EDHE 105 also expose students to a myriad of pharmacy topics through what we call “Pharmacy Focus Days.” Whether hearing from local pharmacists in their respective specialty areas to listening to student panels comprised of older Early Entry and professional students or other events, we understand the importance of exposing new students to the field of pharmacy beginning their first year in the program.
However, possibly the greatest aspect of the course is that it allows EE1s to be in an actual class with 25-30 fellow EE1s each week to discuss common struggles in classes they are all taking (Biology, Chemistry and Calculus). Additionally, such a course allows our new students to be able to grow relationships with one another from their very first semester on campus.
On the academic side of the house, all Early Entry Students (freshmen, sophomores and juniors) receive 1:1 academic (and often life) advising each semester, free tutoring in math and science courses, reserved study spaces available throughout the semester and more.
Again though, while providing our students with all the tools necessary to succeed in the classroom is crucial, it’s the intangibles added over the past couple of years that have helped establish the UM EEP as one of the premiere programs of its kind.
Through initiatives such as the “Encouraging Early Entry Excellence” (E4) Mentor Program, EE Advisory Committees and Summer EE Medlife Trips to Peru, we work tirelessly to expand our students’ horizons far beyond the classroom and simply studying for tests and exams. As I try and hammer home to EE1s in my EDHE 105 course, a future employer is going to care equally (if not more) about the extra-curricular things you did while you were in school than your actual GPAs.
As an Early Entry “phamily,” our students actively engage in service activities such as setting pumpkins out for the St. Peters Pumpkin Patch and working in teams during the university’s annual “Big Event” service day, while also soaking up the social “college experience” through attending events like class dinners on the square, School of Pharmacy football tailgates, away-game road trips, Halloween Parties, Thanksgiving Dinners, Christmas Parties and Pharmacy Formals just to mention a few. It’s through spending time together, both studying and having a good time, that all of our EEs come to cherish their “phamily” away from home.
Having been part of the Ole Miss family for 15 years, I can honestly say the Early Entry Pharmacy Program is unlike anything else on campus. It’s a special program with a special group of students.
Courtesy of Seph Anderson Academic Advisor and the School of Pharmacy