First-year Needs

When I was a Resident Assistant I primarily worked with First-Year Students. It was such a great experience! You could really see the students develop  from high school students into (mostly) independent adults. I didn't know much about theory back then, but it was clear that their behavior and attitudes changed throughout the two semesters of living in the First-Year Residence Hall Program. Now that I look back, it was a great program and some-what ground breaking. I participated in a professional-level committee for piloting a campus-wide first-year residential experience. We utilized programs from around the country and it was great to see work at that level while I was still a student.

There was a blog post this morning about first-year programming and the needs of first year students. All of what she states is true, the transition from high school to college can be difficult and overwhelming. First-year programming generally tries to alleviate a lot of the stress and provides a safe, comfortable community in which to learn and grow. It is a great idea.

My friend Stephen, who was involved in student leadership, Greek life, and student housing while we were both undergrads, was working with Sophomore Programming. I read a posted opportunity about a position leading Sophomore Programming, and it brought back the conversations Stephen and I had when we were working with the two populations.

We talked about the need for a second year of programming, and what it meant for the following years involved. Should there be a third-year program? What about a fourth/final year? What about non-traditional, part-time students, do they not have a community in which to feel comfortable? And what about non-traditional first-year students, are we assuming they have the skills that traditional students do not? It poses a lot of questions that don't always seem to be realized (or answered), beyond the said need for first-year programs.

Comments

  1. As someone who got her BA in three instead of four years, I think a program aimed at juniors/seniors would be really helpful. I was always in limbo, because I wasn't "officially" a senior, and wasn't automatically invited to networking seminars, how to interview workshops, etc. Career-oriented programs should be open and available to all college students!

    As a commuter grad-student now, I don't really identify with many of the other "kids" in my classes. When you don't live on campus and all of the graduate functions are held during the day, it's really tough for those of us who work full-time and take classes at night to feel engaged in "campus life".

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  2. I think this is a challenge that Higher Ed is sorting out. We have been doing a great job of supporting first-years and then basically abandoning (strong word, I know) them to their own experience after that. Tricky. Especially with limited resources and the knowledge that we HAVE to support first-years or we won't retain them/help them succeed

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