Ten years ago this summer, a small group of K-State faculty and student life professionals were putting together the final plan for a First-Year Seminar program. That pilot study which ran in the fall of 2008 with a little over 200 students developed into what became K-State First in the fall of 2010 and now serves over 2,000 students, in addition to supporting our university-wide common reading program known as KSBN and advocating for exciting educational opportunities for all first-year students.
Over this decade of work, we’ve been examining, measuring, and improving our classes and learning communities to make them as interesting and as effective as possible. What we’ve learned is that K-State First does a great job of helping students persist into the second year, earn their degrees in a timely manner, and improve their learning and academic performance in general. K-State First has also done a great job of enhancing student engagement and involvement, which has both made the college experience more rewarding and enjoyable for students and led to the learning and degree attainment successes we’ve been tracking.
Despite these successes, I am certain that we can do even more in the decade before us to improve the college experience for K-State’s newest students.
For the coming year, we are adding new First-Year Seminars, such as PFP 105 Introduction to Personal Financial Planning, as well as some new CAT Communities: The World of Professional Selling, The Art of Healthcare, Psychology in Art and Design, and Screenplays and Stageplays. Our common read for 2018-19 is going to be the gripping and powerful The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, a novel about confronting injustice and experiencing personal transformation.
We are also actively engaged with a number of long term projects, from improving the teaching skills of our K-State First instructors to making the best use of the residence halls as an important learning environment. We also have two long-term goals that we’re eager to pursue:
- Building on our successes to improve retention and graduation rates even further
- Making K-State a welcoming and productive environment for first-generation and under-represented college students
As we move forward, I want to let you—our alumni, partners, and friends—know that we would love your ideas, feedback, and participation. If you have ideas about how we might improve the first-year experience at K-State, please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call (785) 532-1501. If you’re on campus or visiting Manhattan, I’d love to meet for lunch or coffee to hear more, whether it’s an idea for a CAT Community or a common read or some activity or event for new students or whatever is on your mind. I would love to hear from you.
Thank you for your support of K-State First and the first-year experience at K-State!