Robert VanHook, Ozarks senior biology major wasn’t sure what to look for in a University when he first began his search during his junior and senior years of high school in Conway, Ar. His family had been all over the country while he was growing up because of military service. He did know one thing, though, he was looking for a place that would help him succeed and push him more than he had been in the past.
When a family member of VanHook’s suggested University of the Ozarks because of the Jones Learning Center, he was intrigued. After visiting our campus and seeing first-hand the community, connection, and ability to prosper, he knew this was the place for him. Because of a learning difference, he knew that Ozarks would offer him a unique service and provide the ability to thrive while getting the consideration that was needed for him to succeed.
Students who come to Ozarks for the JLC are assigned an Academic Support Coordinator. These coordinators are specialist in the specific type of learning difference that a student has and helps them through all aspects of life on a college campus. “Coordinators in the JLC are essentially a team-mate in your college career. They help you stay on top of assignments and advocate for you to professors,” explains VanHook.
One of the biggest pieces of VanHook’s success is that he is able to test separately from the rest of his class. It is important for our most of our JLC students have the space to test that is free of any potential distractions or a specific time limit, which can cause undue anxieties. During his time at Ozarks, VanHook has been able to become more independent and rely less on the services of the JLC, which is the goal for many of our students that are a part of the JLC.
In the last 3 and ½ years, VanHook has come to appreciate many different aspects of the services offered by the JLC and his coordinator, but said that for him “the best part about having a coordinator is the routine it puts you into.” He goes on to say that although he doesn’t have to meet with his coordinator Tina McCain as often, he knows that she is always there to offer assistance.
Like most other institutions, Ozarks has had to make some adjustments because of the ongoing pandemic. Despite these alterations, VanHook says he considers himself lucky because he feels like he made the shift from all face-to-face, to virtual, then back to face-to-face with masks relatively unscathed, even noting that his grades have improved and it has taught him he is able to be more independent in his learning.
Throughout the changes being made in the last few years, VanHook believes that the small community on Ozarks’ campus is what has allowed him to be successful. That tight-knit feel is one of the things that brought him here, beyond the JLC. “The small class size allows professors to interact with students directly. The small school, small classes, and close community combine to make one-of-a-kind environment.”
VanHook also commented that making a decision to come to Ozarks had multiple different factors. “On its own, the JLC program is absolutely worth coming to Ozarks for. The coordinators, services, and accommodations are certainly the best of any college learning disability program there is. The JLC doesn’t just prepare you for the next day of college; it prepares you for the next step of your life as well. The independence, learning techniques, and skills taught and reinforced by the JLC are invaluable assets that you’ll use forever. Paired with the tight community of the University, small classes and caring professors make not just the JLC the best choice, but the rest of the school too.” After graduation, VanHook plans to apply to and attend medical school. Outside of the classroom, he enjoys going on hikes, playing video games, and watching action movies. Additionally, he has been an EMT for 3 years.