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'Smart Choice' to be unveiled at convocation

August 12, 2009

"Smart Choice," a new campus initiative that encourages students to make responsible decisions as part of their life plan, will be introduced at the 2009 New Student Convocation at Coastal Carolina University, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 17 on the Prince Lawn.

Michael Collins, assistant professor of management at Coastal Carolina University and a key organizer of the Smart Choice campaign, will deliver the main address at this annual event, which will be attended by approximately 1,800 incoming freshmen and 700 transfer students.

Initiated in response to trends in alcohol consumption by college students -- a major concern at universities across the nation -- Smart Choice is one element of a comprehensive approach designed to create a culture of accountability and responsibility to prepare students for success during their college years and after graduation.

"All their lives up to this point students have been drilled on what 'not' to do," says Collins. "They don't want to hear that any more by the time they reach college. What they want is positive messages about their future."

Collins says that the program -- to include public messages, social projects and activities, wallet cards and counseling support -- will instill in students the realization that their actions have far-reaching consequences for their lives and the lives of others.

A key feature of the Smart Choice campaign is a seven-point plan that Collins will outline in detail in his address. Smart Choice organizers believe these axioms, printed on wallet cards and issued to all new students, will help make students more cognizant of their identity and position as students of Coastal Carolina University.

The Seven Points are:

1. Protect the Rooster: Students have a responsibility to make choices that reflect positively on the reputation of Coastal Carolina University. They are part of something "bigger than themselves" and must safeguard the reputation of the institution from which they are working to earn their college degree. (Obviously, the "rooster" is a reference to our school's mascot-- the Chanticleer.)

2. Take ownership: Students are expected to take responsibility for the choices that they make and avoid having a victim's mentality. This tenet is all about accountability.

3. It's about you: Self discovery is an important element of the college experience. It is a time during which students need to find their passions and determine the direction that they want to take in their lives. Parents, mentors, and others are good advisors; however, ultimately, the student needs to pursue their education to achieve their own personal goals and dreams.

4. It's about others: Ultimately, a student must determine during their college experience how they are going serve others. In order to contribute to society and earn a living, students must choose how they can best bring "something to the table" of value to others.

5. Prioritize activities: Each and every day, we make choices about how we spend our time. The Pareto Principle hypothesizes that approximately 80% of the value in our lives comes from approximately 20% of our activities. Consequently, we expect our students to prioritize the MOST important activities-- the activities that will truly make a difference in their lives over the long run.

6. Eat the frog: Brian Tracy coined this phrase, which we utilize to encourage our students not to procrastinate. Psychologists have found that procrastination, particularly of a challenging task, drains a person's energy. Consequently, once activities have been prioritized, we expect our students to "eat the frog" and to start with the most daunting and important priority on the list. This choice will drive student productivity.

7. Persevere: We realize that everyone, at least on occasion, makes poor choices; however, students can recover. Students are expected to learn from their mistakes and persevere. Tomorrow is a new day and students can choose at any time to start making better choices immediately in order to move their lives back into a positive direction.

"Our goal is to create an organizational culture that sets a high standard of expectation for our students," says Haven Hart, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students. "Freshmen who embrace this perspective and maintain it through four years of college will be more likely to be successful in college and in life. We know, for example, that students show a change in behavior after they participate in alcohol education programs."

Smart Choice programs under development include financial incentives for Smart Choice housing; a game show-inspired activity called "Are You in Jeopardy?" that teaches students about sexual assault awareness and prevention; Smart Choice Spring Break options, which offer students the opportunity to get involved in Habitat for Humanity trips and other service activities; and Greek life programs.

For more information, contact Martha Hunn at 843-349-2962.