For most freshmen the transition into college is both exhilarating and terrifying. The new stressors provided by college life are more intense than anything in high school. To help freshmen better adjust, Indiana State University developed a cutting-edge program, University College, which provides the tools freshmen students need to thrive in their first year in college.
University College, established in 2013, helps first-year students succeed and persist in their college career. One of the goals of University College is to provide first-year students with access to high-quality, developmental and proactive advising. Incoming freshmen are assigned to a University College adviser who is cross-trained, but is also an expert in a specific major. Of the 14 advisers that joined University College during the summer of 2013, 11 had previously served in advising positions in other academic units at ISU.
Academic advisers help students register for classes during orientation. Students are highly encouraged to meet with their advisers within the first two weeks of the semester and once a month after that. These advisers are not only knowledgeable about their field of study, but can also assist students unsure about their majors or minors. The effort of the academic advisers has not gone unnoticed. Derrick Jackson, a freshman and criminal justice major, is thrilled with his experience with his adviser.
“My adviser is fantastic and amazing,” he said. “She has helped me and made me feel welcome. She has helped me grow and develop into the person I have become. If I could have her all four years, I definitely would choose her.”
In addition to academic guidance, these advisers also provide the push some students need to succeed. Advisers reach out to students who are identified on the three-week attendance report as having attendance issues and also contact students who have deficient grades on the midterm grade report.
“University College shows students how to manage college,” said Carmen Tillery, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “We know that for many of these students managing college is not that simple. It can be overwhelming. University College helps them make meaning of it all.”
Students are supported with guidance from faculty, staff and advisers, but they are also empowered to take responsibility for their own success. They are encouraged to take advantage of campus resources, such as tutoring.
“Tutoring has been a huge available resource that [academic advisers] speak heavily of,” said Taylor Anthis, a freshman athletic training major. “I myself have used one and it is great! Having a tutor in a class you struggle with helps with understanding the material much better.”
The resources and guidance the University College provides has already inspired hundreds of undergraduates since its inception, and the professionalism and friendliness of its advisers will insure the continuation of such a helpful program. The tips offered by advisers to their students will stay with them throughout their college career.
“Overall, the advice I’ve gotten from my adviser is to try my best to succeed,” Jackson said. “I can do anything I put my mind to.”