UNO's Office of First Year Experience Hosts First-Ever Academic Reboot Camp

Ever-focused on academic success, the University of New Orleans launched this month an Academic Reboot Camp aimed at helping struggling students to get back on track.

"There was a lot of positive feedback from across the institution," said Mike Hoffshire, a UNO student success counselor. "A lot of faculty, staff and upper level administrators really wanted to see this be successful and make it happen."

The University's Office of First Year Experience was introduced to UNO under the administration of President Peter J. Fos with the aim of improving student success and increasing retention rates at the university. Student success counselors -- Hoffshire, Nicole Ralston and Meghan Schwab – have set up a new student success center in Milneburg Hall, Room 159, where students can stop in between classes for skill-building and advice. They have also built an early alert system designed to help faculty and administrators help struggling students save their grade point averages before it's too late.

On Friday, Jan. 11, the Office of FYE hosted its first-ever Academic Reboot Camp, designed to help students plan for a better, even bang-up, spring semester. FYE was pleased by the student turnout and is looking forward to expanding the program in the future, said Ralston.

Twenty-six students participated, said Christy Heaton, associate director of the Office of FYE. Several faculty and staff also visited the camp throughout the afternoon with aims of developing relationships, boosting morale and providing helpful tips.

"It is an exciting program and something that not all schools are doing," said Heaton. "In fact, another university has contacted them to get some feedback about the program."

In the middle of fall semester, UNO student success counselors contacted via email all students who had received a "D" or an "F" on a midterm.

"At that time we began noticing trends," said Schwab, who found that a number of students having difficulty were having problems with time management, difficulty relating to their professors and difficulty settling on or feeling confident about their majors. "We started academic reboot camp as a way of tackling those issues."

Students rotated through sessions about motivation, time management, and practical methods for succeeding in a college course, Ralston said. In the motivation session, students took a skills-based assessment, provided by Career Services, to define the skills that they enjoy to use, then defined one goal to work towards this semester and named who on campus – and adviser, student success counselor or mentor, for that matter -- would assist them with that goal.

During the time management session, students used academic planners donated by the bookstore to physically plan out their days and weeks for the upcoming semester, Ralston said. In a session facilitated by the Learning Resource Center, students defined study times, free times, work times, and class times and learned how to utilize their days effectively.

In a building blocks session, students learned practical methods for succeeding in a college course, addressed common misconceptions about college faculty and provided students with ways to break the ice and start engaging with their instructors. Students also learned how to calculate grade point averages, monitor their own performance in a course and make strategic decisions about managing their time.