Bill Richards - Coordinator, First Year Programs
oing to college is, and should be, one of the best and most rewarding experiences of your life. It is often thought of as your right of passage into adulthood and all that entails . . . freedom to make your own decisions, to come and go as you please, to choose your friends . . . and with that comes responsibility . . . the responsibility to make wise decisions and to be accountable for your actions.
Colleges and universities around the country are aware of the challenges that students face as they embark on this new phase of life. For that reason, we have put into place a variety of programs to assist students in their transition. Northern Michigan University has had such a program called First Year Experience in place since 1995. The goals and objectives of our program are as follows:
Students will explore ways of learning, retaining, and relaying lecture or textual material. They will develop skills in written and oral communication.
Students will be introduced to and become users of campus and community resources.
Students will engage in career exploration and/or confirmation activities. They will gain an understanding of academic and career planning.
Students will develop connections with their seminar instructor, teaching assistant, peers, and others. They will develop increased self-awareness and use this knowledge to assist with planning for the future. Students will be introduced to the diverse college environment.
As the needs of our students change, so does our program. We address these changes and various other issues relating to college life and learning in a class entitled UN 100 Freshman Seminar. What is Freshman Seminar?
The Freshman Seminar course that you are enrolled in has been designed to introduce you to college life and learning. During the course of the semester, you will cover a variety of topics including life skills for college, communication and relationships, learning strategies, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, planning your career and education, advising and registration for future semesters, and issues surrounding diversity on college campuses and in the community. You will also learn more about technology at NMU: what is available, how to find or access it, and how do you use it. You will also be made aware of various campus resources, including services such as an all-campus tutoring center, writing center, disability services, academic and career advising, student support services, etc. Classes will focus on discussions and group work as well as a variety of activities relative to your college experience. You may have speakers come to your class to talk to you about various things you can do to stay healthy, relieve stress, how to join campus groups, etc. Your seminar is co-taught by a Northern Michigan University faculty or staff member and a teaching assistant (upper classman), who will also serve as your peer mentor. Both the faculty/instructor and the peer mentor will be available to answer questions or to help you with various issues as needed. We'll also talk about certain behaviors, both positive and negative, that affect your college experience and what you can do to become a successful college student.
Before coming to campus, I am sure you received lots of advice from your parents, siblings, friends, and high school counselors about the "do's" and "don'ts" of college life. It's likely that the advice you were getting was from their personal experiences; things like, "make sure you go to class"; "don't wait until the last minute to study for a test"; "get enough rest"; "don't get involved in partying"; and so on. While they may not have realized the value of their experiences at the time, it was in looking back that their perceptions changed . . . they learned from their experiences. The point is, they took something away from their experiences (whether positive or negative) and learned from them, and they want to share that knowledge with you. Our theory for why this course is important to you is similar. We want to share what we have learned over the years as we assisted thousands of new freshmen who are experiencing college life for the first time to become successful students.
We know that everything is new and in some cases, a bit frightening. We want to be sure that you feel connected to the University, that you feel comfortable and at home with us. I can assure each of you taking this class that there will come a time when you remember something you learned in your Freshman Seminar that will help you when you have an important decision to make . . . perhaps it will involve your classes, the possibility of changing your major or career path, or a personal relationship. Following is a list of common issues (as well as who and where to go for assistance) students may encounter either in their freshman year or throughout their college career:
* Specific page information is contained in the Northern Michigan University Student Handbook. You can access the handbook on the Web at http://www.nmu.edu/dso.
Northern Michigan University endeavors to establish policies and regulations that ensure the living and learning environment of the academic community is free from disruption. The University attempts to establish procedures, practices, and processes that assist in the orderly pursuit of the mission of the institution.
The University also recognizes that some complaints and grievances will inevitably arise. To address these, the University has created procedures for students to register complaints and grievances and receive a reasonable response to the issues brought forward. A number of processes for resolution of specific issues are provided in existing policies and regulations. Students are expected to initiate such processes directly, where possible.
An important part of this class for everyone (the instructor, the teaching assistant, and your fellow students) is getting to know you. This will be accomplished in a variety of ways including a brief one-on-one meeting with your instructor; various ice breakers; group work with others in your class, perhaps time spent with your teaching assistant, as well as your participation in a variety of social and cultural activities. You may also be asked to fill out the "Getting to Know You" form at the end of this chapter. It will give your faculty/instructor and teaching assistant some information about you and may help them to understand some of the issues that need to be addressed in the class.
It is important that you do the best that you can do . . . achieve the highest GPA that you can during your first semester. It is much easier to maintain your GPA than it is to try to raise it. We are here to assist you . . . but you must also ask yourself . . . "What can I do to become a successful college student?"
■ Activity: Getting to Know Your UN 100 Freshman Seminar