By Faith Auslund
The Vision Magazine Assistant Editor
Freshman year of college can be one of the most stressful times in a student’s life, but North Greenville University’s First Year Experience course and mentor program can make the transition surprising smooth.
“The First Year Experience classes are designed to orient the new students to North Greenville, to University life, and to what it takes to succeed as a college student,” said FYE Director Linwood Hagin. He explained the program teaches incoming students vital skills for making college doable, such as time management, note taking, studying and making the most of the advisors. It additionally teaches practical things like campus layout, handling relationships and even how to calculate a GPA.
Hagin said the FYE program has developed since its debut. “A change [we made] was grouping the students in their class sections during orientation weekend, so they are starting to bond with other students in their major that are going to be in that class. Each class then became an academic-discipline-specific course.” For example, the Mass Communication department has its own section, as does psychology, biology, Christian studies and all other disciplines.“So [the students] are already connecting — that orientation weekend — with other students like themselves,” Hagin said.
In 2011 NGU added mentors to the FYE program. Each mentor is assigned a group of freshman students in his or her discipline to guide. “We wanted to have the new students interact with people who had gone through the [FYE] program, or in the case of the first two years, upper classmen, to have them make some connection with students other than their new companions coming in,” Hagin said.
Student Activities Coordinator Jamie Daughtry weighed in on the program’s mission. “The purpose of the FYE program is just to give freshman students an older student that can help walk them through the process of college, and maintaining relationships, whether that’s a mentoring kind of relationship or discipleship, or even just mentoring them through practical things in college,” Daughtry said.
However, the FYE program does not end after the first semester. Hagin said, “There are focus groups, and other things that happen throughout the year to keep the students involved to help make that connection with North Greenville, with faculty, with other students, etc. It’s more than just a course, it’s an ongoing program.”
NGU also asks mentors to set up a group activity such as a Bible study or social activity to make connections with their mentees throughout the year. “Chapel services, BSU, other student activities and so forth all have a component of integrating the first year students throughout the year,” Hagin said.
When asked how the program has been received, and what difference it has made on campus, Hagin said, “From the three years that we’ve had the program in effect, it’s definitely been a success and both students and faculty have provided very positive feedback. It’s something we are looking forward to continuing in the future. As Dr. Epting says of course, either they come to salvation or grow stronger in their walk, and the FYE program is just one small part of making that happen.”