Get to Know an Organization: First Year ExperienceBy Sara Beth Bolin | 08/22/2016 11:20am
Before school begins, FYE takes 150 students off campus to Camp 1831. This week-long camp allows students to learn University traditions, while helping them smoothly transition to college and connect with people they may not have met otherwise.
During the fall semester, FYE opens their Transition Talks. These talks offer a chance for students to meet one-on-one with someone from the FYE office.
“It’s the same as our large-scale events, except you get the chance to actually sit down with one of our staff members and learn about the office,” said Chelsea Primm, a coordinator for the FYE office. “But [the students] also learn about where they need to go next or what they want to get involved in.”
Students can schedule a Transition Talk for several different reasons: to learn about different opportunities on campus, get connected with a faculty member or organization, to find a mentor or to talk about the student’s transition. Appointment times and short biographies of each available staff member are available on the FYE website, fye.ua.edu.
In the fall, FYE begins accepting applications for their Freshman Forum program. Freshman Forum is a leadership development program with a focus on civic engagement. Two hundred incoming students will be accepted into this all-freshmen group to learn about the skills students need in order to move into leadership roles such as positions in the Student Government Association, ambassador roles and many others.
“An overarching philosophy is that freshmen need to figure out who they are before they go lead someone else, because when you don’t know what you believe in and what your values are, it’s hard to tell people what to do and create a following,” Primm said. “So we have programming to create that following so that you can buy into it.”
Students will have meetings in their large groups and also split into smaller groups of 40 students. These five groups will allow students to connect better with each other and become more confident in their leadership skills, as well as figure out who they are as leaders.
“If you’re out to meet everybody, that’s a lot of people to get to meet on campus, but if you’re also looking for your next best friend or someone to help you on your leadership journey, you have that small group to work in,” said Primm, who also said she’s seen both sides in Freshman Forum.
Meagan Vincent, a sophomore who was a member of Freshman Forum in 2015, said the program was a great way to make connections and adjust to campus.
“You learn a lot about leadership and other skills that can help you during the rest of your time here at UA,” Vincent said.
The program also focuses on civic programs in Tuscaloosa. In October, Freshman Forum will partner with Hands On Tuscaloosa for a community service day. Each small group will have a different civic engagement project, such as painting a school or doing something to help the environment. This part of the program allows students to give back to their community. Freshman Forum runs from September to March. Freshman students who are interested are encouraged to apply now at FYE’s website. Applications are due Sept. 5 at midnight.
First Year Experience’s last formal program begins in the spring semester. Ignite UA is a community program open to all first year students (transfer students included). This program allows students who were not involved in the fall semester to become involved in the spring semester. Students who want to meet more students are also encouraged to join. More information on this program will come in the spring semester.