Striving for Excellence:
03 | Freshman Programs Ease the Transition to College
High school students who expect college to be more of the same are in for a surprise, but Freshman Programs help first-year students make a successful transition, both academically and socially. New freshmen can enter one of five Freshman Programs communities, all of which stress academic success, campus involvement and civic engagement. All five offer University 100 classes, which emphasize time management, leadership, research and stress management. The classes are overseen by a faculty member, student affairs staff member and a peer mentor.
“The first year is such a critical year for students,” says Lia Gutierrez-Castillo, the program coordinator. “The quality of the first-year experience can really have an impact on the rest of a student’s college career.”
Fullerton First Year Community, which attracts the most members, is a two-semester program addressing traditional issues such as making new friends, establishing contacts with professors and meeting General Education course requirements. Freshman Future Teachers, also a two-semester program, introduces students to faculty in their fields and gets students into elementary school classrooms through service-learning programs.
Compass, a two-semester program for students who haven’t chosen a major, links students with the Career Counseling Office and academic advisers who can help students ascertain how their talents and interests can mesh with career paths. Live ‘n’ Learn, also two semesters, is open to students living in residence halls and focuses on creating a sense of community.
Freshman Success, a six-week program which operates the summer before college, provides remedial and developmental course work for students who didn’t pass the mandatory English and math placement exams.
Studies have shown that Freshman Programs participants achieve a higher average GPA (2.87) than other first-time freshmen (2.55). Also, 55 percent of those who complete a full-year program graduate in four years.