The missing Link

Smitha Gundavajhala

Among the leadership organizations on campus, Link’s niche is to integrate freshmen into the high school environment. While this is a specific task, its influence is far more vast than even they realize. As Link accepts leader applications for the upcoming year, they must rethink their role on campus to make full use of their leadership influence.

Link leaders work with their students a few times a year, and remain vastly disconnected from their freshmen outside of mandatory Link events. A more integrated approach is needed for Link leaders to help freshmen as fully as possible. Photo by Margaret Lin.

Link leaders work with their students a few times a year, and remain vastly disconnected from their freshmen outside of mandatory Link events. A more integrated approach is needed for Link leaders to help freshmen as fully as possible. Photo by Margaret Lin.

Many activities Link has done in years past, including providing study tips and information about facilities, are useful, but this information isn’t being delivered in the most effective way. The current model is orientation-heavy, with occasional workshops and study sessions a few times a semester, held in a formal setting. The freshmen will usually figure these things out, with a little help from their friends and teachers. But the best way Link can teach is through involvement. Relationship building. Modeling skills and traits necessary to succeed. This isn’t just a part of the oath, it’s an active part of the job description.

Link leaders don’t know the biggest influence they have: their presence. At my freshman orientation, I had a pair of Link leaders that I thought were really cool. One of them promised the members of my group he would take us out to lunches in his car. He disappeared after the orientation and was quietly replaced with another Link leader. Rumors flew between those in our group. Freshmen notice when you’re not there. They remember what you do — or don’t do.

Link must shift their focus towards being there. Not upon dispensing information at an orientation, or just popping in for visits, but actually being the resources that they tell freshmen are so vital for success. A more integrated approach is necessary for freshmen to feel as though Link leaders are more approachable. Link leaders should lead whether or not they’re wearing their yellow shirts. Take freshmen to the school library and show them your studying spots. Sit down with the freshmen over lunch and just listen to them instead of talking at them. The bottom line: while they have valuable experience to impart, what is even more valuable is their presence in the lives of their Link kids.

They are not just meant to be mentors, but also friends — people these freshmen can count on to be there when needed. Link leaders may not remember in four years what they did for the students, but freshmen notice these things. And they’re not likely to forget.