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What Do Our Students Think Is Important During Freshman Year?

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

The Critical First Year in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1605.1 - 12.1605.17



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Paper Authors

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Dan Budny University of Pittsburgh

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Alaine Allen University of Pittsburgh

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Jessica Quarcoo University of Pittsburgh

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

What Do Our Students Think Is Important During The Freshman Year


The transition from high school to college can be very difficult for many students. At the University of Pittsburgh, we have a system of courses and academic counseling that is designed to address these issues and help with this transition. One major component to help the freshman make this major transition is a series of mentoring courses that the entering student can select for the first semester. This paper will discuss topics the freshman raised with their mentors and what the students think is important during the first year.

Index Terms – Freshman Advising, Mentoring.

Introduction Numerous studies document the importance of educating new students about their new academic setting [1 - 5]. Indeed, helping students anticipate and understand life changes can help the university realize a significantly higher first-year student persistence rate [6]. For many years, university programs have incorporated these components via the implementation of pre-college orientation programs that include:

1. Raising the knowledge level of first-year undergraduate students with regard to lifestyle changes that can occur in moving to a campus environment [7]. 2. Developing an awareness of the services offered by the university is crucial in the creation of a productive adjustment process [8]. 3. Expanding new students' knowledge of changes in status, residence, failure, relationships, and authority through both interactive discussions and written materials documenting success strategies [9]. 4. Helping students develop a positive attitude toward their first year at the university.

We use our summer orientation programs to address these items, and also help students become aware of the changes that are taking place in their lives and begin the transition in the student's immediate family structure by introducing professional counselors and advisors during the summer registration program. This expansion of their family is continued in the fall semester, in ENGR0081 and ENGR0011, as peer mentors and faculty are added to their family structure. This paper is designed to give a brief overview of our freshman student transition and retention program, and show what our students think is important. Background information ENGR0081 is a course that explains the university policies and procedures to the students. It is required for all freshmen engineers [11]. It is a zero credit class, however the freshmen are graded pass/fail based on attendance and participation. The addition of peer mentors in ENGR0081, allows us to provide student success tips as well as survival tips from a student’s perspective. This allows us to further expand the student’s new family structure by allowing the peer mentors to act as brothers and/or sisters.

Budny, D., & Allen, A., & Quarcoo, J. (2007, June), What Do Our Students Think Is Important During Freshman Year? Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2557

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