Today: Jun 17, 2024

First Year Experience program wants students to get involved

Matthew Cilbrith – Special to the Southern News

The First Year Experience, FYE, program at Southern Connecticut State University, is designed to help freshman and transfer students adjust to university life in their first year.  Jan Jones, assistant director of the FYE program, has been working on this program since it started six years ago.

“We would see first year students running around not knowing what to do or where to go,” said Jones, “so we try to make their college experience easier and more fulfilling.”

Some actions the FYE has taken are setting up learning communities for students on campus.  How they do this is putting the same 22 students in both an Inquiry class and a critical thinking class.

“When students have these classes together it gives them a sense of familiarity, bonding, and friendship.  There is also a peer mentor in the class to have someone who has a lot of knowledge but also can be a friend,” said Jones.

But their goal is to get them involved in the university outside of the classroom as well.  Southern has a diverse culture on campus: there are over 100 clubs and organizations on campus according to the Southern website. These clubs range from intramural basketball, to Mathematics club; Greek life to French Club.


A convenient place for students to find out about these clubs is the club fair held on the quad.  Freshman Zach McCoy, an education major, attended the fair that was held last week, and he found some groups that interested him.

“I was just over looking at the anime club which seemed cool, and now I think I’m going to join the Philosophy club, I’ve been really interested in that recently,” said McCoy.

McCoy was excited to come into college and be a part of the campus, but once he moved in and felt the energy around the school, he was hooked.

“I definitely want to get involved as much as possible, it’s just such a cool environment,” said McCoy, “I feel like we are so well informed of so many events going on around campus it’s really encouraging to be active.”

The club fair is one of the first events of the year to get the new students involved around campus.  Inquiry professor Margot Schilpp urged her students to visit the fair and see what they find.

“I told the students to visit one group they couldn’t see themselves joining at all, and then a booth that interested them,” said Schilpp, “then when I asked in class the next day who joined a group almost everyone raised their hand.  Then asked who joined more than one, and almost half the class raised their hand again.”

Dr. Tyree speaking about FYE
Dr. Tyree speaking about FYE

One challenge FYE faces is getting commuter students involved on campus.  Jones said it’s because most work a full-time job or are a caregiver for someone at home, on top of their classes.

One commuter student who has taken the initiative to be involved on campus in his first year is sophomore transfer student Ismail Labrador, a communications major. Labrador transferred from Western New England College this semester and has already gotten in campus life at SCSU even while commuting.

“I joined the TKE fraternity, I just rushed with my friend Jake last week,” said Labrador. “I’ve already met a ton of people and I really want to just meet more people to know about everything.”

Jones feels that the program is working and wants to keep working at getting even more students involved.

“I’ve definitely seen a huge improvement in campus life since we started the FYE program just six years ago.”

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