|Phil Campbell, Coordinator of New Student ProgramsThe crux between recruitment and retention of students in their first year has become more focused on the intentional integration of the curricular and co-curricular experiences provided by institutions of higher learning. At SIU Carbondale, this target has become a part of the foundation from the first interaction. The addition of UCOL101: Foundations of Inquiry student success course to the University Core Curriculum seeks to meet the emphasis on the curricular with the Saluki Peer Mentor program supplementing with the co-curricular connection. Both of these programs are highly promoted during Preview Days, Open Houses, and New Student Orientation until the moment students arrive on campus for the semester.Invested in the needs of our students, the UCOL101 and Saluki Peer Mentor programs have been implemented to assist in the recruitment and retention of students. Housed out of New Student Programs, the Saluki Peer Mentors are intentionally engaging students in group discussions, support services and activities, and individual conversations each week that supplement the weekly curriculum of UCOL101 which is designed around research on student needs and experiences.The UCOL101 course supports the transition of first-year students as they enter the research university. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and behaviors critical for academic and personal success. Students will acquire these capabilities as they are introduced to the foundations of inquiry-the interests, assumptions, methodologies, and potential academic and career tracks-associated with the disciplines offered at SIU Carbondale. Supported by the role-modeling of Saluki Peer Mentors, new first-year students connect with continuing students in an engaging, meaningful mentor relationship focused on the development of academic and personal skills essential for success during the first year at SIU Carbondale.
Predominantly taught by Academic Advisors from varying Academic Colleges as well as staff members from across campus, UCOL101 is a fusion of campus professionals across disciplines. In addition, the programming from Saluki First Year and campus partners and collaboration provide students every opportunity to develop foundational and critical skills to be successful at SIU Carbondale.
As we continue to assess the effectiveness of UCOL101 and Saluki Peer Mentors, initial reviews seems positive with specific outreach given to individual students to provide early intervention and outreach as well as ongoing relationships forming between students, faculty, and staff. As the quantitative and qualitative data builds each week, I feel comforted by the foundation of my work; seeing the smile on my student’s face as she leaves our recent conversation reminds me that in addition to the numbers and data, success rests in the little moments of joy.
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