FIRST YEAR FORUM INTRODUCES STUDENTS TO THE UNIVERSITY AND SYRACUSE COMMUNITY
When School of Education first-year students arrive in the fall, they receive much more than a hearty welcome and a campus map. They participate in the semester-long First Year Forum, a one-credit course designed to help them adjust to the school, the campus community, and the city. The new students are also matched with peer advisors.
Amie Redmond, the school's recruiting specialist and coordinator of the First Year Forum and peer advisor program, sees this as an opportunity for students to learn about their new home and its resources, as well as get to know administrators, staff, faculty, and each other. Transfer students enroll in a similar program, University Transition. "After the first semester of being here, our students really have a good understanding of what Syracuse University is all about," she says. "They share ideas and experiences."
Dean Steven Bossert, who teaches a forum section, believes it builds a strong community among students and gives them a sense of belonging to the school. "I create many opportunities for my students to work together and socialize. Getting to know one another lessens apprehension about being in a new environment, especially when they openly share similar fears, concerns, and reactions," he says. "I routinely include activities that involve group problem-solving, and the students help each other adjust to campus life. This is important."
Dean Steven Bossert with students from a fall 1996 First Year Forum session.
Such topics as registration, counseling, and time and stress management are integrated with informal activities like bowling, apple picking, going out to dinner, and attending Syracuse Stage productions. Professors Patricia Tinto G'90 and Vincent Tinto, who co-teach a forum section, often invite students to their home for dinner. One of their assignments is for students to read the works of faculty and interview them. "We want students to see people's professional and personal sides," Patricia Tinto says. "It allows students to see the institution as a community. In college, you really need to be part of a learning community, and we try to help them make that transition."
Loren Kirschner '99 is part of the school's peer advisor board, whose seven members co-teach forum sections, providing a student perspective on issues. The forum serves as a great way to get to know fellow students, including those in other majors, and faculty, Kirschner says. "It really shows students that these are people who care about us and are here to help."