Friday, July 19, 2013

UNO First Year Experience Expands Recruitment and Retention Efforts with FIGS

New this year, the University of New Orleans First Year Experience continues to expand creative efforts to improve University recruitment and retention efforts by rolling out FIGS.

First Year Experience, known on campus as FYE, is building in as many opportunities as possible to strengthen student-faculty bonds, a fundamental link in ensuring that university students stay in school and complete their educations within four years.

FYE staff work within the Office of Enrollment Services and their mission is to ease the transition of first-year students at UNO by providing a broad network of support services and programs that address the academic, personal and social need of first year students and promote student success.

"A FIG is a first-year interest group," said Nicole Ralston, student success counselor. "It's a way for faculty to really interact with first-year students over fun, interesting, unique topics."

A First-Year Interest Group, or FIG, is a group of students led by a faculty or staff member focused on a specific topic, said Ralston, who is currently recruiting FIG leaders. Five FIGs are already slated to roll out in September and she is looking for more leader recruits. The Office of First Year Experience will help faculty or staff leaders organize their first meeting and help with publicity. From there, the faculty or staff facilitator will lead.

"We're getting them focused on a fun and interesting unique topic," said Ralston. "Everything we try to do is that retention theory: building one-on-one relationships between faculty, staff and students."

"ID Talk," a group focused on intercultural dialogues will explore issues around race, gender, sexual orientation, ability and class, Ralston said.

A Campus Sustainability FIG led by UNO researcher Ben Shirtcliff will help students to explore how to be an agent of change for the UNO community. Students will learn how institutions can serve to improve local, regional and global issues of social equity, economic development and ecological systems.

In the New Orleans Food FIG, UNO Foodies, FYE and UNO History Professor Michael Mizell-Nelson will explore historical aspects of food. Ralston said the group events will ultimately culminate in a "UNO First Year tour of the city."

"All Mixed Up" is a place where students who identify as "mixed race" to unite, network and discover shared experiences, Ralston said.

"They're like meet-up groups," said Ralston of the new groups emerging on campus. "They're not student organizations. They're just interest groups...They will be fun."

Interested volunteers should contact Nicole Ralston by Monday, Aug. 12 at


FIGS Meetings

All meetings will be held in the Student Success Center, located in the University's new Privateer Enrollment Center on the first floor of the Earl K. Long Library on campus.

Campus Sustainability –  Tuesday, Sept. 3 at noon
ID Talk – Thursday, Sept. 5 at 12:30 p.m.
UNO Foodies – Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 10 p.m.
All Mixed Up – Monday, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m..

Read More

First-Year Interest Groups (FIGS)
First-Year Experience