Western’s First Year Experience or FYE as it is known around campus is a program for all first year students—either freshmen or transfer. It is a beneficial program that helps new students with their transition to Western. I had a chance to sit down with Nancy Parsons, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs; she explained to me what FYE is and how it is beneficial for new students.
As we all know, sometimes the transition into college may be difficult at first. Whether it’s being away from home, missing a significant other, or the heavy (now collegiate) class load …Western Illinois University has revamped the FYE program to better assist students with this transition. “We want students to feel like they’re a part of the community on and off of campus,” explained Parsons.
Western initiated the FYE program in 2005. It became a required course for freshmen students in 2008 and was soon modified. The modifications began in 2011 when the program was reviewed; at that time, a new goal was set and a new course of action was planned.
The course was separated into two courses; one to be taken in the fall semester and the second, the following spring semester. This semester, the FYE program still entails two courses but these are taken simultaneously during the students’ first semester on campus. The two courses are University 100 and FYE General Education/ Pre- Professional Course.
There are 100 sections of University 100 this semester, and it is solely designed to help students have a healthy transition to the University. Every section follows the same syllabus to keep students on the same page. The class focuses on individual wellness including social wellness, physical wellness, intellectual wellness, and psycho-emotional wellness. Within this course, freshmen are also linked with upperclassmen who serve as peer mentors. The peer mentors attend every class and provide perspectives on all topics covered during class.
The second course, the FYE General Education/ Pre-Professional Course, focuses on specific content from a certain department on campus, such as a biology or communication. The material learned in this class is universal material that students may apply with their other classes as well to achieve academic success
These FYE classes are taught by administrators and instructors from all over campus. Faculty and staff applied to be instructors of these courses; then the training began. “It’s the ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ mentality,” explained Parsons.
By adding these courses to the first-year curriculum, it is helping students not just through the first semester of their college career but the courses give them skills they will be able to use throughout their college career, and even beyond college. What do you remember about your first year at Western?