As I write this, the OU campus is buzzing with the return of thousands of students from all over the world. Norman really is a different town with and without students. Many OLLI at OU students are returning as well because today kicks off the very first course for the fall 2014 semester.

Every year, during the afternoon of freshmen move-in, President Boren holds convocation at the Lloyd Noble Center and welcomes all new and returning students and faculty. This year, he pointed out five ways to succeed at OU. I felt that it was worth me reprinting (read: stealing) these tips from him and relating them to OLLI students.

1.     “Don’t specialize too early.”

Take classes from great teachers because those teachers change lives. OLLI at OU definitely has great teachers. Some of our finest are Kathryn Jenson White, David Anderson, Walker Robins and David Ray. All are teaching for OLLI this fall.

2.     “Don’t be afraid to grow.”

The only way to grow is to open yourself up to new experiences and meet new people. Step outside your comfort zone and take a course on French Cinema or Western Music Styles.

3.     “Internationalize your experience.”

While President Boren continues to encourage students to study abroad (and rightfully so; it’s an amazing experience), OLLI students can do that (in a way) without ever leaving Norman. Sign up for a course on the History of Zionism and Israel or the History of Jerusalem. You can also transport yourself through time in Post-Revolutionary America or the time of Lewis and Clark.

4.     “Don’t be passive.”

Education isn’t about soaking up knowledge—it’s about having discussions and being active in classes. In my opinion, this is the absolute best part of the OLLI program. Our students love to discuss and share their experiences. It is the best way to learn and engage yourself.

5.     “Get back to those dreams you brought with you.”

Each student who comes to OU has a dream. That includes OLLI students. Follow it.

Treat these OLLI at OU courses just as you would if you were an undergraduate taking a college course for the first time. Enroll in your favorite subject or pick a brand new topic, and then engage yourself in one of the University of Oklahoma’s hidden gems!

Chris Elliott