First Year Studies begins with a Rock Solid Orientation
FYRST begins with an orientation program during which students are introduced to the campus, to a FYRST faculty advisor, and to many institutional resources and services. New student orientation is designed to help students achieve a successful transition to university life. Slippery Rock employs new and innovative ways to greet new students in their first few days on campus
and assist them continually throughout their first year. New students who are admitted early have the opportunity to attend an early orientation program in the spring of their senior year. These students receive a head start on their college experience by scheduling for classes, receiving financial aid information, making and securing living arrangements, and meeting new friends, faculty, and college staff. The orientation program, which is conducted in June, is comprised of an overnight experience and more time to explore the campus and its resources. In August, new students are invited back to campus prior to the beginning of the fall semester for a welcome orientation session.
Academic Advisement is perhaps the most important faculty/student relationship outside the classroom. The University’s academic advisement system is comprised of two primary organizational structures that include First Year Studies advisement and upper-class student/transfer student advisement.
First Year Studies (FYRST) Advisement
All academic advisement of new freshmen is coordinated and directed by FYRST. The mission of FYRST advising is to personalize the first year by ensuring that every student receives a high standard of academic advisement services from pre-enrollment to orientation, and throughout the student’s first year. FYRST advising provides assistance that will help students to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to select an academic program or major which best suits their individual abilities, interests and career goals. During the student’s enrollment in FYRST, he/she should develop a more thorough understanding of his/her own purpose and goals in college as well as those of the university. If a new freshman has declared a major, advisement will be provided by a faculty member selected from the major department. If no major has been declared, the student will be actively involved in the Exploratory Program and advised by a selected faculty member who has volunteered to work with students who have not decided upon a major. Progression through FYRST will be assisted by the faculty advisor, however, it is the student’s responsibility to see that he/she meets all requirements of the degree granting college so that upon completion of the first year of study, the student has attained the minimum number of credits, the specified courses and the minimum grade point average required by the major department.
Upper-class Student/Transfer Student Advisement
As a student progresses from FYRST to the degree-granting college, some departments may reassign their students to different academic advisors during the upper-division years, while other departments may permit the student to retain the FYRST advisor throughout his/her years of study at the university. Upon entrance into the university, new transfer students are assigned academic advisors from their major program.
Exploratory (Undeclared) Program
Students entering the university who are exploring majors participate in the Exploratory Program. These students are advised by FYRST advisors who volunteer their time to advise students as part of the Exploratory Program. The faculty identified as FYRST Exploratory advisors have an interest in and a commitment to assisting new students in their transition to college life. Nearly all Exploratory students are advised by members of the Academic Services Department.
The Academic Advisement Center is responsible for developing advisor and student advising resources, conducting advisor training and first year student advising informational workshops, and maintaining its involvement in retention-related and first-year research activities.
Learning Community Clusters
The university implemented a learning community cluster program which includes a freshman seminar for the purpose of improving students’ academic and social integration and establishing an educational environment that maximizes both student-student interaction, student-faculty and student-professional staff interaction. The transition to university life can be challenging and even stressful. The academic and social advantages provided by joining a learning community cluster and freshman seminar initiative can help reduce that stress. By enrolling in the same classes, students are encouraged to meet new people, make friends easily, form study groups, participate in class discussions, and become engaged with their professors.
Research has shown that the more students connect to the university, the more successful they are in their college experience. Our research shows that by enhancing a student’s sense of community and involvement, the freshman seminar and learning community clusters contribute to higher retention rates. Because both freshman seminars and learning communities promote active learning and foster collaboration and cooperation, students who participate are higher achievers and more involved in their classes.
Freshman Seminar (FYRST Seminar)
The freshman seminar course is designed especially to enhance the academic, social, and personal integration of the student by focusing on transition topics related to the college environment (e.g., time management, active learning strategies, note-taking skills, test preparation, goal setting, use of campus technology, academic advising, major and career exploration, professional development in the technology fields, diversity, relationship issues, and issues of wellness).
Academic and Learning Assistance Resources
Available online from the Academic Services Department are a series of academic and learning assistance resources for students. This resource center offers free materials on first-year and adult academic transition tools; learning assistance resources on time management, effective reading, test preparation, test taking and note taking; and academic advising resources on scheduling tips, grade point average calculations, and information on major and career selection.
Slippery Rock University’s Tutorial Center assists undergraduate students in meeting their academic goals with free peer individual and group tutoring services, study skills workshops, and Supplemental Instruction (SI). Emphasis upon basic skills and upon the Liberal Studies areas, study skills instruction and support, communication with faculty, and extensive training and supervision of tutors meet students’ immediate academic and content based needs and provide them with effective and transferable study skills. Tutorial services at Slippery Rock University are personalized and tailored to individuals’ academic needs.
Tutoring services also include the proactive Supplemental Instruction (SI) model for academic assistance. Students hired as leaders attend assigned classes and work closely with enrolled students to model and teach study skills strategies. Leaders facilitate group-tutoring sessions emphasizing cooperative learning activities.
Individual tutoring sessions for students are scheduled by appointment or on a drop-in basis, whereas group and SI sessions are scheduled to accommodate the greatest number of interested students.
College Skills Workshops
During the fall, the Tutorial Center offers an array of workshops designed to help students succeed in college. All students are eligible to participate in the workshops on such topics as managing time, taking effective class notes, reading texts, building a strong memory, increasing test-taking skills.