Strategic Plan - Goal 6

Strategic Goal: Provide a comprehensive, integrated approach to the First Year Experience that encourages degree completion.

Success Indicators

  1. Incoming freshmen who have been identified as in the lowest quartile of first-time, full-time freshmen based on their academic performance will complete an average of 15 hours each semester with an average minimum GPA of 2.25.
  2. First to second year retention rates will increase by 1.5 percent each year; second to third year retention rates will increase by 1.5 percent each of the 5 years of the strategic plan.

  Timeline, Reports, Team Members.                    Task Force Findings.                   


Action Step 1: Communicate academic expectations in every contact with first-year students

  1. Develop a philosophy/rationale of the first year that informs relevant institutional policies and practices.
  2. Adopt a set of academic expectations that have been agreed upon by the campus community.
  3. Widely disseminate expectations to first-year students.
  4. Communicate these expectations to all faculty and staff.
  5. Integrate financial aid exit counseling into all Freshman Seminar classes.
  6. Stress the importance of liberal studies in Freshman Seminar classes.
  7. Emphasize to students that they are responsible for managing their own education. 

Action Step 1 Assessment: Administer faculty and student surveys to ascertain changes in behaviors once the expectations have been communicated to student first to second year retention rates will increase by 1.5 percent. 


Action Step 2: Improve the availability of student services

  1. Institute a HOTLINE for students to get answers to general questions.
  2. Improve availability of online services.
  3. Provide more programming through Residence Life.
  4. Continue Open Forums to gather student ideas and needs.
  5. Provide services that accommodate students’ abilities, backgrounds, interests, and experiences.
  6. Ensure the campus environment is inclusive and safe for all students.
  7. Implement Advisor Trac software for more efficient management of academic expectations.
  8. Conduct advisor evaluations for all advisors.

Action Step 2 Assessment: Conduct Student Engagement Surveys each spring to determine change.  Student satisfaction with student services will improve by 3 percent.


Action Step 3: Align efforts of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs in support of first-year students

  1. Involve all areas in decisions about the first year.
  2. Improve campus communications.
  3. Provide more orientation to new faculty and staff about the availability of services.
  4. Communicate changes to the entire campus community.
  5. Provide faculty and staff development activities related to orientation and support services.
  6. Encourage first-year students to examine their motivation and goals with regard to higher education.
  7. Establish a forum for exchange of conference materials and information.
  8. Establish expectations for faculty participation in co-curricular and extra curricular events and incorporate into annual evaluations.
  9. Establish a process for faculty involvement in new student orientation.

Action Step 3 Assessment: Establish a baseline of current numbers for tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, orientation. Collect data each semester.  The number of students attending tutoring, SI, and orientation will increase by 3 percent each of the five years of the plan.


Action Step 4: Create a campus environment that fosters student development during the first year.

  1. Promote increased competence in critical thinking, ethical development, and lifelong pursuit of knowledge by implementing the Council for Advancement of Students in Higher Education guidelines.
    • Establish learning outcomes for each FYE course and evaluate how those learning outcomes are being met.
    • Establish learning goals for co-curricular activities and evaluate how those learning goals are being met.  Work in conjunction with Student Life efforts.
  2. Communicate with parents more by establishing a Parent Newsletter and Listserve.
  3. Establish a mentoring system between alumni and new students.
  4. Provide assistance with “academic challenges” in the college catalog, web pages, program brochures, etc.
  5. Develop outdoor gathering places for increased interactions among students and faculty.
  6. Structure experiences in which students interact in an open and civil community with people from all backgrounds and interests.
  7. Institute a siblings' weekend.
  8. Administer the Strong Interest Inventory in all Freshman Seminar classes.
  9. Create a document that addresses diversity issues and disseminate that information to the campus community.
  10. Encourage the use of social justice/diversity items in philosophy statements for units across campus as well as in the syllabi.
  11. Approach diversity with more intentionality in classes.

Action Step 4 Assessment: Verify that learning goals are established and disseminated for English 1104, 1108, Speech 1100, Information 1100, and college level math courses.  Verify that learning goals are established, recorded and assessed for co-curricular events. Use assessments currently in place (Noel-Levitz, CCSSE, NSSE) to determine student perceptions of the effectiveness of student development activities during the first year.


Action Step 5: Implement these actions steps via a first year team

  1. Conduct monthly meetings of the new committee to oversee action steps.
  2. Identify offices responsible for arranging and disseminating data regarding the first year.
  3. The new team will coordinate speakers and staff development to include the first year perspective.
  4. The FYE team will attend the First Year Experience Conference and disseminate materials.

Action Step 5 Assessment: Conduct yearly evaluation of strategic plan for adjustments and changes - first to second year retention rates; second to third year retention rates; hours and GPA earned by freshmen.