NMU students benefit from FYE program

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College can be a scary place, especially if you’re new to the university setting, but because of a program at Northern, there is hope in getting better acquainted with college, classes and life-preparation.

NMU’s First Year Experience (FYE) program is designed to help first-time freshmen learn how to make the transition from high school to college better, said Susan VerDuin, director of the First Year Experience program.

“It’s the first time that students are away from their parents,” VerDuin said, “We want to help them become more comfortable with college life.” The program, started in 1995, has grown from 10 blocks to over 58 blocks during the fall semester and three blocks during the winter.

The program blocks are based on a range from 12-16 credits per semester. The classes a student will be enrolled in depends on which block he or she registers for. The classes can range from EN 111, to introductory science classes. However, UN 100, the freshman seminar class, is required in every block.

Students can enroll by contacting the Dean of Students Office. Blocks are chosen from a list available from the Dean’s Office and also online at www.dos.nmu.edu. Once a student enrolls they do not have to register for classes because they are already guaranteed the classes in their block.

“Students that go through the program have a higher success rate over students that have not participated in the program,” VerDuin said.

The rate is determined by calculating the GPA and retention rate of participating students after their fifth and sixth semesters.

Students that complete the program have an 11.3 percent higher retention rate over students that have opted not to enroll in it, VerDuin said.

Currently, two thirds of freshmen are enrolled in this program every year at NMU, and FYE is mandatory for students entering Northern on either freshman probation or college transition.

Students who do not meet either the ACT or GPA requirements for admission are allowed to enter Northern on transition status, while students that meet only one of those requirements are allowed to enter on a probation status.

Although it is not mandatory for all students to enroll in the program, those who have participated have seen positive results.

“It’s a good [program] for people that are unprepared for college,” said Alicia McCauley, a senior Spanish major. “I’m still friends with most of the people that I went through the program with.”

Tara Perttula, a junior social work major, liked the social aspect of the program..

“I met a lot of people when I took UN 100,” she said. “I’m still really good friends with a couple of the girls I knew in it.”

UN 100 helps freshmen learn different techniques for being successful in college, such as time management, how to find and use different resources on campus and different ways the student can better learn the material covered in their courses, VerDuin said.

“It really helped me with learning how to be a better student.” Perttula said.

Because the program has grown so much since its inception, there are currently two options of where it could go in the future.

“We can either cap it, or expand it,” VerDuin said. “It all depends on how much demand there is for the program and how much funding is available to continue its growth.”

Due to the program’s success, expanding it seems likely, VerDuin said. She added that funding was determined by the budget.

“I was glad that I went through the program,” said Perttula. “It really helped me learn who I was and where I would fit in at college.”