Do you remember your freshman year? Times of stumbling around to find the correct building, mostly lost and confused. Luckily, the Class of 2022 will not have to know the struggle thanks to Shippensburg’s new first-year experience program.
Shippensburg University has also created its first program that is dedicated to exclusively teaching each incoming freshman class.
The First-Year Experience, also known as UNIV 101, is a mandatory course that gives tips and strategies on how to study effectively and navigate the university’s campus with success.
The course is not only equipped with professors and staff, but also with student peer anchors. The peer anchors are responsible for mentoring the assigned group of students through their studies and campus life.
Peer anchors are required to work a minimum of 10 hours per week with their students and a minimum of four hours per week dedicated to tutoring.
Sophomore peer anchor Lucas Everidge has had many of his students use his study hours. In one instance, a student came in for help with a biology course and found that Everidge could explain it better for him than the textbook.
“Whenever I was working with a tutor or a graduate student, you feel like they are hierarchically above you, whereas I am only a year older. There is a better relationship and they can open up more,” Everidge said.
Peer anchors are taught to encourage first-year students to be involved on campus and to use the services provided by SU, such as the Learning Center in Mowery Hall.
Everidge said the students he works with have responded positively to the course and appreciate SU for caring for their needs.
The program includes select requirements such as four reflective essays and students attend at least two on-campus events. SU structured the course so that professors are allowed to add any individual content that they find is helpful for first-year students. Therefore, each class will have some variance between professors.
Everidge said, the main goal of the program was to increase SU’s first-year retention rate. After seeing such positive statistics in similar programs at other universities across the country, administrators thought it would be a great advantage to bring to SU.