University of New Orleans Boosts Student Retention with UNIV
Mandatory Course for Freshmen Is Designed to Increase Student Success
At the University of New Orleans, first-year, first-time freshmen get started on the right foot with a course designed to build skills and awareness for their university success.
"What is allows them to do is learn best practices of being a college student, tried and true ways to success," said Meghan Schwab, student success counselor in First Year Experience at UNO.
University Success 1001, affectionately known on campus as UNIV, is a one-credit course designed to help first-year students learn about college and develop effective strategies to be successful in college. The course meets once a week in small sections designed to allow students a chance to get valuable information, ask questions and make friends. Every UNIV class includes 10 units that faculty must teach, including topical issues, such as time management, money management, study skills and learning styles. A special component taught by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership exposes students to skills and attitudes that will help them to be more involved in campus life and become leaders on campus and in life.
This year, in an effort to help form stronger student bonds and advance student engagement, First Year Experience revamps UNIV, tying class sections to special interests. Individual sections will be tied to special interests, allowing the undergraduate students to participate in focused classroom discussions. The program will also be tied to affinity housing, allowing residents of special interest wings an opportunity to engage academically and socially.
"It really gives you a chance to interact more with your peers because you see them more often," said Nicole Ralston, student success counselor, who said that greater student involvement in the community is statistically tied to graduation success rates.
"The better you like your classes, the more you love your university," said Schwab. "We're trying to maintain really high quality because this course is about making freshmen prepared for a successful career but also to be better connected to UNO."
Student success counselor Mike Hoffshire said that FYE counselors spent ample time this year reviewing student evaluations of the course and selecting faculty to teach specific courses. Courses traditionally involve visits from UNO alumni, as well as faculty from various departments and staff from Student Affairs, Career Counseling and other critical areas.
"First Year Experience has spent a lot of time looking at the transition issues that freshmen face and I think that the new syllabus and the topics we'll be covering in UNIV are also going to reflect the needs of this group of students," he said.
Eight of the 33 sections of UNIV 1001 will be tied to special interests, the student success counselors said. Sections will be tied to: Honors, Leadership and Involvement, Sciences and other topics, including New Orleans Culture, a new addition. UNIV faculty will work with leaders of floors in the affinity housing program to design programming. field trips and related discussions.