Chowan University Introduces First-Year and Second-Year Experience
Retention rates are a top focus for colleges and universities across the country. With this in mind, Chowan University will initiate a First-Year Experience program to help students successfully navigate the transition to college life and a Second-Year Experience program to further assist and encourage students to complete their degrees within four years.
The First-Year Experience program is comprised of a formal course each semester (CU 101 and CU 102), and specific activities students will participate in as part of these classes. CU 101 requires students to attend several activities with their class and the faculty members who teach them.
Dr. Mollie Madden, Academic Advising Coordinator, said, “One of the major goals of CU 101 is community building. It can be difficult for students to find a community when they first make the transition to college, so CU 101 is designed to give them one right from the beginning.” CU 101 focuses on student success skills such as academic resources, policies, as well as organizational skills such as prioritizing and time management.
CU 102 will expand on the topics covered in CU 101 with the addition of subjects like long-term planning and emotional, physical, and financial health. The First-Year Experience program focuses on retaining students from their first year to their second year as they learn to navigate the nuances of college and create long-term goals.
The Second-Year Experience program will emphasize the celebration of achievements; acquaint second-year students with faculty, majors, and administration; and consider how to make informed decisions, such as choosing a major or planning for life after graduation. The ultimate goal of this program is to increase retention after the second year. To better prepare students for their third year, the Second-Year Experience will transition away from formal organization and focus more on fluid programming throughout the year.
The first Second-Year Celebration Week will be held this September. It will consist of four days of events: a celebration at the Hawks Nest where students can mingle with faculty while they enjoy sno-cones, popcorn, and prizes; a 'Stump the Professor' day; a service project; and a field day concluded with a picnic. All of the events build community and provide networking opportunities.
In the spring, the program will host one event per month. There will be a Degree Audit in January, a Major Declaration event in February, a Beyond the Bachelor's event in March (to plan for graduate school or a career), and a Bridge to the Third-Year event during the last week of classes, which will help students think about what they should expect during their third year and how they can best prepare.
Nationally, only 45% of students will graduate within six years from the first university in which they enroll. That number is slightly higher when transfer student graduation rates are calculated, at 57%. Another 12% will graduate after six-plus years and 31% can be expected to drop out completely. Universities nationwide are implementing programs to better engage students and enhance the student experience, while also focusing on retaining students through graduation. Retention is not only beneficial to universities at an administrative level, but also at the individual level. Higher retention rates prevent students from leaving without earning a degree, potentially wasting thousands of dollars. This more hands-on approach allows Chowan to offer additional support to incoming students while upholding the University motto, “Faith in your future.”