Anderson University’s new program for freshmen, “First Year Experience,” provides guidance to new students through faculty mentors and peer leadership. This is AU’s first year implementing the program, and it has been well received by both faculty and students.
The two main components of the First Year Experience are mentoring relationships and classes. Each new student is connected with a peer mentor and a faculty mentor. In addition, each new student takes a First Year Seminar class in the fall and a Liberal Arts Seminar in the spring.
“Students are placed into mentor groups with a group of their classmates,” said Associate Dean of Students Dean Branson. “We give them a cohort-based experience. The faculty and peer mentors work together to team-teach the fall course.”
Peer mentors are upperclassmen selected from a group of applicants.
“The peer mentor program has been a great learning experience. I have made many new friends among the mentors and with the new students as well,” said junior and peer mentor Jared Broschart. “It is good to know that I am helping ease the sometimes difficult transition between high school and college.”
Peer mentors also provide assistance to the faculty mentors. They send reminders to the students about upcoming meetings, what assignments are due, and answering any questions they may have about the class.
Freshman Crystal Jones said the program had something to offer all incoming students. “The First Year Experience course has been a blessing to have on several different levels,” said Jones. “For those individuals who struggle to reach out socially, it gives them a great base from which to grow. For those of us who just desire to learn all that AU has to offer you, the program connects you with several peer mentors who are ready and willing to provide advice and the facts when you need them.
“My first few weeks at AU would have been a sink-or-swim experience without my mentor group," Jones continued. "They provided access to a few friendly faces around campus, a place to sit without feeling alone during events, and the advice to make my life run more smoothly. Knowing I had such a foundation gave me more confidence to reach out and form my own life here on campus.”
The First Year Seminar focuses on things that the administration hopes will be helpful to the students’ first year. The fall course meets once a week for 14 weeks. Eight of those sessions take place within mentor groups, and the other six bring all groups together in Reardon Auditorium.
The purpose of the program is to help students be more successful and to make progress toward earning their degree by giving them a network of support.
“This program won’t be measured in retention rates, but if we make a difference in students’ lives," said Branson. "That is how we will know if this program is successful.”
— Jonathon Hosea is a sophomore from New Castle, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Hosea is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University 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 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh 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.