First Year Experience lacks real-world focus

by Kari Barnick

barnickka@mnstate.edu

The Class of 2019 have become official dragons, but that’s not the only thing they have in common. Incoming freshman and transfer students embark on this new path by taking a specific course their first semester. This course is the First Year Experience which is required for all incoming students. It is intended to help students learn all the ins and outs of succeeding in college. The FYE program has just recently undergone some changes with new professors and course materials. The fresh face of FYE made me reflect on my own experiences and wonder why it’s required when it’s not very effective.

As an incoming freshman last year, I was required to take FYE. Luckily, my professor turned out to be fantastic and I still keep in contact with her now. However, I can’t say the same about the course. The class itself is only one credit, which left me feeling I was wasting time that could have been spent on other classes or homework. I would even go as far as to say that the class is insulting by assuming all incoming students are naïve and unware of how to handle college life on their own.  I did learn a few things from my time in FYE, such as how to manage financial aid. But that’s mostly it.

There needs to be a conversation about its effectiveness and if it needs to be mandatory. I do not come to college and pay thousands of dollars to be taught what I already know, which I found to be the case in my personal FYE experience. If students find the class helpful to their education they should be able to take it as an option but not a required one. If any “FYE style” course should be mandatory, it should be focused more on surviving the outside world rather than surviving college.

As a freshman, the problems I often faced were real world problems and not focused on specific college experiences. I know I’m not the only freshman who came into college with the terrifying thought that we now have to schedule all of our own appointments. I could have used help with learning how to pay my bills, take out loans, or file taxes, anything that will propel me farther in life when I’m thrown out on my own. Instead I was lectured on not drinking and how to avoid rape.

Luckily, new freshman might have a different experience because of new changes, but I’m still leery of whether the changes are making it more effective. I hope that the changes made within the FYE program benefit students more than they benefited me. If not, I hope the conversations remain open about whether it should stay mandatory.  I hope the student body will take their education into their own hands and demand to be heard.

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