Every year, hundreds of students arrive at the end of August to move into the dorms at Anderson University for the first time. Parents and students start shopping months before for supplies, bedding, and computers. But once class starts and orientation is over, how well are students adapting to college? This was a concern for both Academic Affairs and Student Development at Anderson University. Through researching other orientation and freshmen programs at various universities, AU is introducing the First Year Experience to freshmen for the first time this fall.
"With the creation of the First Year Experience, this program changes the dynamic of campus in an effort to help incoming freshmen become more successful going into their sophomore year," said Dean Branson, associate dean and director of student programs. [Photo on left: "Awakening to Wonder" is the theme for academic year on campus.]
When parents and students arrive for move-in day on Thurs., Aug. 26, all new students will participate in the same orientation activities on Thursday. On Friday there is one orientation program for freshmen and a separate program for transfer students. The transfer orientation program is offered to address the specific needs of transfer students.
Incoming freshmen will take an added class this fall called first year seminar. The class will focus on six meetings in Reardon Auditorium, with the entire freshmen class, discussing different topics ranging from stewardship to registering for classes. Eight sessions will be instructed by their peer mentor and a faculty mentor from their mentor groups at orientation.
In the first year seminar class, all freshmen will be reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Individual sessions will focus on a deeper understanding of this book, topics at the group sessions in Reardon and what it means to live in a faith-based community at AU.
Orientation will remain a time of acclimating students to campus through sessions with campus deans, activities and a service project with the City of Anderson. But the First Year Experience is meant to impact students on a deeper level with their mentor groups past the traditional orientation week.
Branson added that First Year Experience programs have been successfully conducted at both large and small colleges for over two decades. The idea is the same, but the curriculum and approach is different per university.
One class that will remain similar to past academic years will be liberal arts seminar. The difference this year will be former family groups, now mentor groups, will gather together at orientation, First Year Seminar class, and liberal arts seminar in the spring semester.
Classes for all students at Anderson University begins Mon., Aug. 30.
- Stefanie Leiter is the Web Content Manager at Anderson University in the Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.