New initiative sets stage for student success
UMass Amherst is rolling out a new, more collaborative and comprehensive campus-wide program to introduce new students to campus, help them adjust to university life, and strengthen their chances for collegiate success. The new initiative, First Year Intelligence (FYI), encompasses a number of components throughout the year that combine curricular and co-curricular activities to better acclimate students to the academic and social environment on campus. FYI is based on research that shows the first year of college is critical to student success, since it sets the stage for the entire collegiate experience.
FYI begins with new students orientation, expanded this year to include a fall program prior to the start of classes, in addition to existing summer sessions.
At summer orientation, students will get to know the campus, meet with their academic advisors, register for classes and select campus housing. They will also receive A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League by Ron Suskind, which they are required to read prior to the fall orientation. The book follows Cedric Jennings, of Washington, DC, through his last years of high school and first years of college, and chronicles how he manages personal and transitional challenges.
First year students return to campus September 1, prior to the start of classes on September 6, for their three-day fall orientation. As they prepare for the year ahead, students will get to meet each other and faculty at social events and planned activities and will attend sessions on academic success, campus involvement, and health and safety. They will also discuss A Hope in the Unseen in small groups of students and faculty and they will hear from Cedric Jennings in person at the new student convocation.
FYI will continue beyond orientation. All first year residence halls feature theme-based communities and residential academic programs (RAPs) that foster relationships among students and expand academic programming and discourse. Faculty-led first-year seminars, small classes on a variety of topics offered throughout the year, provide opportunities for students to get to know faculty better, and Four Points of Contact, a new approach to academic advising, will help create a closer connection between students and their advisors, ensuring that they meet at least four times during the year.