First Year Experience on UWP Campus


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

The First Year Experience program has aimed to make the adjustment to the college environment easier for incoming freshmen.  This has included a course called “Intro to College Life” that gives insight to the struggles college can include, the overall different aspects of college life and how to deal with and manage this new environment.

The “Intro to College Life” course is one of the items the General Education Committee has recently discussed in their meetings.  The Gen Ed Committee is a faculty-led group with members on and off campus that discuss many routine topics such as any new class recommendations for General Education, access to student learning opportunities and helping students engage more with General Education.

Although the idea could be helpful for the students, “Intro to College Life” has been a bumpy road, according to the Chair of the Gen Ed Committee, Amanda Tucker.  The Exponent got to speak with her about many ideas and some issues regarding this course, including why the course has not been meeting some expectations.  

A recommendation has been brought up by the Student Senate to make this course not required for freshmen. Tucker gave some insight, saying, “There has been a lack of consistency” and the course is “not working the way students thought it would.”

The idea of the course not being required as a Gen Ed anymore is not necessarily close to the final stages, but Amanda Tucker revealed some possible alternative options if this idea does play out.  

There were some ideas that maybe freshmen will spend a few early days on campus to get them assimilated with only the vital material that comes from this course.  Another option she discussed was having First Year Experience-specific events that could give students more information on anything they need for their first year on campus.

Overall, Tucker elaborated that this course was meant to “help students adjust to college life” as well as help with students’ “social and personal developments.”

Tucker wants to make this process as painless as possible as she thinks this material is very important saying “this material is not the most enjoyable to learn but is necessary to student success.”

A similar yet different point of view comes from a professor who is currently teaching the “Intro to College Life” course.  Haley Rusk is adamant about keeping this course going, stating “I think this program will and should still exist in the future … maybe as an eight-week course, or a larger lecture with a discussion class too.”

Rusk wants the class to be a full course as supposed to events or students coming a couple days earlier in order to retain this material.

Rusk believes this material is important and beneficial to any incoming freshmen as the course “goes over topics that aren’t covered anywhere else and answers questions that some students are afraid to ask for fear of being silly or embarrassed for not knowing how things work.”

Despite being optimistic about the course material, Rusk still thinks changes are needed in order to give this course the best impact on students.  She thinks “making the courses more standardized so that all courses are getting similar information” is an option to consider in getting all students the knowledge they need in the same way.

The Exponent also got to speak with a student who is currently taking the class, which gives greater insight onto what the minds of the students are thinking. 

Ryan Doherty is a freshman taking the class and a believer that “the course has had a big contribution in helping me have a smooth transition into college.”  He thinks that freshman year can be “overwhelming and stressful” but this class has been helpful in guiding him through those issues.

Doherty doesn’t think the information learned in the class is necessarily needed, but believes this course will give one the ability to ease into their freshman year.  

On the contrary, he does think that some different adjustments to the class are needed to make it more beneficial to learn.  An adjustment for him was that “there shouldn’t be quizzes or tests in the class or many grades at all,” and he adds, “I feel like those just add extra stress when there are tons of other classes and things we are focused on.”

Doherty wants this class to “eliminate some of the stresses and not add more.”

He has enjoyed the class this semester and knows that the information taught in this class can be “used throughout our entire lives.”