At UNLV, student success is measured by factors beyond academic performance, retention, and graduation. We want all of our students to thrive, which is contingent upon each student’s personal, academic, and interpersonal engagement with curricular and cocurricular educational opportunities (Schreiner, 2013).
It is not enough for colleges and universities to simply increase the array of educational offerings aimed at first-year students. The FYE is not necessarily improved by the amount of programs, but by the level of institutional coordination, integration, and fidelity of implementation across them. Because first-year student success is not easily localized or specific to one functional area on campus (Young & Keup, 2019), efforts to bring newcomers from the periphery of the academy toward greater, more meaningful participation must include a cohesive, comprehensive, and campuswide mix of curricular and cocurricular initiatives (Barefoot et al., 2005; Greenfield et al., 2013; Hankin & Gardner, 1996; Upcraft & Gardner, 1989).
Moreover, the FYE represents a systematic onboarding process for first-year students that communicates a positive, assets-based approach grounded in respect between educators and new students (Hankin & Gardner, 1996). A well-coordinated and intentionally designed FYE represents a reversal of “a several hundred-year tradition of harassing new arrivals through intimidating rites of passage” (Hankin & Gardner, 1996, p. 10) and an explicit commitment by the institution to be a student ready campus. McNair et al., (2016) describe in a recent Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) publication that student ready institutions as those that take initiative and prepare for the students who are entering their institutions rather than bemoaning the students coming to campus are not academically or emotionally “ready” for college.
- Astin (1984) student involvement theory
- Roger (1995) diffusion of innovation
- Schlossberg (1989) marginality and mattering
- Schreiner (2010) thriving
- Museus (2014) culturally engaging campus environments (CECE) model
- Theory of Change