Re-Imagining the First Year


What is Re-Imagining the First Year (RFY)?

  • Re-Imagining the First Year of College (RFY) is a new initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) intended to transform the first-year experience for students and improve student success.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USA Funds have given grant funding to AASCU to support the RFY initiative.
  • Employing a competitive application process, AASCU selected forty-four colleges and universities to participate in RFY, the most ambitious project in the organization’s more than fifty-year history.
  • Participating in RFY entails a three-year commitment (2016-2018) to comprehensive, institutional change focused on four key areas: institutional intentionality, curriculum redesign, changes in faculty and staff roles, and changes in student roles.
  • RFY aims to ensure success for ALL students, particularly those who have historically been underserved by higher education:
    • Low income
    • First generation
    • Students of color
  • RFY is intended to substantively and sustainably alter the first-year experience, in order to:
    • Dramatically improve the quality of learning and the quality of student experience in the first year.
    • Increase retention rates.
    • Improve student success.

By participating in RFY, SHSU plans to

  • Form an inter-divisional leadership team to review quarterly the student experience in these areas: academics, admissions, financial aid, registration, graduation, advising, student activities, recreation. In addition, the committee will revise policies and procedures that interfere with students’ forward momentum.
  • Increase the number of students who are graduating in 4 years by redesigning campus advising.
  • Increase the number of students who take credit-bearing math courses by strengthening the developmental math curriculum.
  • Increase the number of students who take the college readiness course by redesigning the UNIV 1301 course.
  • Engage faculty in the student success conversation on campus.
  • Create a ‘Welcome to your new home’ experience for freshmen and transfer students.
  • Students
    Goals
    • Expand the orientation experience and Welcome Week
    • Hold a spring orientation for spring First Time Freshmen (FTF) admits.
    • Promote co-curricular transcripts.
    • Develop a plan that would place all students in a learning community.
    What Will Success Look Like?
    • Annual improvement in semester-to-semester and one-year retention rates.
    • Long term improvement in both 4-year and 6-year graduation rates.
    • Annual increases in the total number of students engaging in high impact practices.
    • Annual increases in the total number of students using the co-curricular transcript.
    • For FTF entering the Spring semester, increased retention.
    • Increase in students’ participation in Welcome Week.
    • Increased student participation in learning communities.
  • Faculty
    Goals
    • Incentivize faculty instructional innovation by implementing Teaching Innovation Grants.
    • Encourage faculty to offer a “Meaningful First Day” of class each semester.
    • Incentivize teaching in the core curriculum.
    • Provide feedback to students within the first three weeks of class.
    • Expand faculty/student collaborative research and creative activities (EURECA).
    What Will Success Look Like?
    • Faculty will report a greater awareness of the various academic success programs on campus.
    • The total number of faculty applying and receiving Teaching Innovation Grants will increase annually.
    • The number and percentage of students engaging in undergraduate research with faculty members will increase annually.
    • Annually, an increasing number of faculty and students will report a greater sense of awareness regarding holding a Meaningful First Class Day, and will report doing so.
    • Annually, an increasing number of faculty and students will report faculty giving students evaluative feedback within the first three weeks of a class.
  • Curriculum
    Goals
    • Move from a hybrid of faculty and professional advisors to a total professional advisor model.
    • Build an advising model that pairs professional advisors to a specific college.
    • Strengthen the Developmental Math curriculum.
    • Re-calibrate and re-brand UNIV 1301.
    • Develop a marketing plan for UNIV 1301.
    What Will Success Look Like?
    • Fewer incidences of misadvising.
    • Regular log-ins to My Success Planner.
    • More students using the SAM Center for advising.
    • Students will complete developmental math classes the first time they take them.
    • Students will move the following semester to credit-bearing math classes.
    • UNIV 1301 is accepted into the core curriculum.
    • More students choose to take UNIV 1301.
  • Institutional Intentionality
    Goals

    Form an inter-divisional leadership team to review quarterly the student experience in these areas: academics, admissions, financial aid, registration, graduation, advising, student activities, recreation. In addition, the committee will revise policies and procedures that interfere with students’ forward momentum.

    • Implement My Success Planner across campus and divisions.
    • Create one checklist for incoming students that merges divisional items into one.
    • Review all messaging to students and revise to communicate the need to employ a “Growth Mindset”.
    • Involve each academic dean in the communication flow to declared students.
    • Offer students structured scheduling for their first two semesters.
    • Raise monetary threshold for blocks on registration.
    What Will Success Look Like?

    Students will be able to navigate the collegiate territory with more ease.

    • Students will be able to do more for themselves.
    • Have fewer questions.
    • Fewer blocks and holds on registration.
  • Resources