UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Supporting our first year students

The First Year Task Force work continues. The task force is part of the university’s efforts to improve student success and increase retention rates. By 2013, UNCG’s goal for retention for fall of first year to fall of second year is 80 percent.

The First Year Task Force is led by Kristen Christman and Kim Sousa-Peoples.

It has created a Your First Year Learning Goal, which addresses what the outcome – the result – of the first year should be. The goal states:

All first year students will engage in meaningful co-curricular experiences which produce measurable learning in active citizenship, ethics, social responsibility, personal growth, and lifelong learning in a global society. Students will engage in free and open inquiry which fosters mutual respect across multiple cultures and allows the student to make a connection between these co-curricular experiences and classroom learning.

How might that goal translate into brief, engaging, student-friendly language? Here is some text in a SOAR Resource Guide ad:

The first year of college is an exciting and challenging time; make the most of it—inside and outside of the classroom. At UNCG, every first-year student should take advantage of all that our campus community has to offer. Visit yourfirstyear.uncg.edu and find ways to meet new people, make meaningful connections, and get a great start with your classes. Let YFY help you figure out what it means to be a successful first-year student at UNCG!

That ad is one of many ways the “Your First Year” initiative will be front and center for students at SOAR 2012. The Your First Year web site, a clearinghouse of info, is tailored just for these first year students. For example, having trouble with academics? It tells them where to turn. Need help with classes? There are eight places to click, from Tutoring info to Writing resources. The idea is to make it easier for the students to access what they need, so they can be successful.

In Foundations for Learning (FFL) courses, the web site and the learning goal language will be highlighted in the text and in class as well, Sousa-Peoples says.

Also at SOAR, a text-messaging service will be launched. Last year, a pilot TextTrack program was used for assessment purposes. This year, first year students – many of whom like to text via phone – may text any questions they have to “Your First Year” and they’ll receive a prompt reply (during normal business hours).

It’s all about helping students have a successful first year, knowing where to turn and how to access resources – so they can be successful.

By Mike Harris
Archive photograph of incoming freshmen with family members, by David Wilson