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A Life Design Lab for first-year college students

I came into this semester not having any idea of what I wanted to do and not really informing myself of what I had opportunity to do…now, all my thoughts have become more organized.

I have a sense of where I am going [and that] I was technically the only thing holding me back from a lot of opportunities.

Taylor Your Tulane (TYT) is a 1-credit life design lab offered by the Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking that applies human-centered design (design thinking) mindsets and tools to support first-year students in designing a fulfilling college experience.

Students in Taylor Your Tulane build an understanding of how they can be designers in their own lives and prototype different “investments” in the college experience by building a diversified college portfolio that includes their education, relationships built while at college, and experiences on campus and in New Orleans.

The TYT Course was created by Julia Lang and inspired by Designing Your Stanford at Stanford University. 

Notecards with handwritten messages such as How might I meet new people who are similar to me?”

Course Overview

TYT equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to take advantage of opportunities and student support services available to them while developing transferable skills and strategies that contribute to academic, personal and professional success at Tulane and beyond.

In the course, students explore interests within and beyond selecting a major; consider radically different academic pathways at Tulane; prototype and test areas of curiosity; identify fears that hold students back from maximizing their Tulane experience; reframe the role of failure at college; and map Tulane and New Orleans communities to effectively meet and connect with like-minded people on campus and in New Orleans.

Student Evaluations

In Fall 2019 course evaluations, the following percentages reflect the number of Taylor Your Tulane students who agree that "this class helped me to..."

Become a changemaker: someone who can create positive social change in their field:

strongly agree
79%

Expand my idea of what is possible in college:

strongly agree
85%

Envision and explore multiple paths in college:

strongly agree
88%
An assortment of sticky notes with different ideas students generated for how to make the most out of their college experience and questions they had related to their college experience

Course Objectives

At the end of this course, students are able to:

  • Gain self-awareness of their goals, interests, talents and values, and how they relate to designing a fulfilling college experience
  • Make well-informed decisions about educational and professional goals based on knowledge of self, Tulane, and New Orleans
  • Process and reflect on the transition to college and demonstrate an understanding of how to communicate effectively and deal with challenges constructively.
  • Develop a detailed, yet flexible and customized educational plan (“road map”) to achieve their goals that incorporates both course work and co-curricular experiences.
  • Become aware of, prototype and test different co-curricular programs and experiential learning opportunities at Tulane.
  • Capitalize on university resources to support their success and achieve their goals
  • Become socially connected to members of the Tulane community via early, meaningful contact with classmates, upperclassmen, academic advisors, and career professionals.
  • Describe and apply design thinking mindsets to challenges students encounter.

Testimonials

I have gotten a lot from this class. This class help me get out my shyness, because when I first got here, I didn’t want to talk to nobody. The first homework I had.. was to interview upperclassmen.

So, when I first got the homework, I was like nobody would talk to me, but when I went out and did it a lot of people was willing to help me get my work done.

That day help me get comfortable talking to others, it showed me that people around this campus are nice and willing to help you.

This course has taught me a lot about how life design is not just a topic taught but a way of life.

This approach allows you to efficiently [work towards] any goal.

This course taught me to recognize my interests and how I can apply them to my work and studies.

I realized that the major that I originally thought was meant for me was really not what I wanted.

My greatest takeaways are that I shouldn’t be afraid to have failed pathways or to try new pathways.

Students gaze upon a board with ideas for maximizing their college experience.

Further Resources

To learn more about life design at Tulane, check out:

Interested in collaborating or discussing life design?

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