A New Experience for Freshmen


By Danielle Garner

Transitioning from high school to college can be difficult. To make the jump easier, Youngstown State University plans to offer courses designed to help freshmen prepare for their college experience.

Incoming freshmen Youngstown State University students gather in Beeghly Center for IGNITE orientation prior to the semester beginning. Starting this year, all incoming freshmen will be required to take a first year experience course.

Currently, students who are undecided in their major are required to take an exploratory First Year Experience course. Starting next fall, incoming freshmen will be required to take a FYE course that is specific to their major. These two-to-four credit courses help students get acclimated to the university environment by teaching them things like maintaining good grades and financial literacy.

The General Education Committee and the Student Government Association worked together to create the idea for the course.

Gabriella Gessler, SGA vice president, said the new course was designed to help students transition between the high school and college environment.

“We want this to be a natural stepping stone that helps new penguins transition into strong YSU students,” Gessler said.

Tyler Miller-Gordon, SGA president, agreed with Gessler, adding that the new course will teach students study skills, course planning and essential crafts needed in their field.

“We think this will be a great way to maximize success and create a stronger campus community,” Miller-Gordon said.

Touchy but relevant subjects will be addressed in these courses. Freshmen will learn about the Campus SAVE Act, which deals with sexual harassment and staying safe on campus.

Cynthia Vigliotti, a member of the General Education Committee, called these ‘YSU 101’ courses.

“This is a way to incorporate things not explained in a detailed way during orientation in a class format,” Vigliotti said.

Each college will offer an FYE course that is specific to a student’s major, like Vigliotti’s course,  ‘Language, Ethnicity and Gender.’ Undeclared majors can choose a course from any subject.

Vigliotti said this saves students time and money, because they will discover whether or not they like their major early on.

Incoming freshmen are already required to take a career assessment test. General Education Committee member Joseph Palardy said adding FYE courses will make the test more useful.

“A career assessment without any additional guidance can leave students with lots of questions,” Palardy said. “Therefore, we have attempted to create a more complete module that provides some context for them.”

A requirement for these courses will be getting involved in campus activities.

“Students that are integrated into campus as a result of these courses tend to stay in school at higher rates and complete their degrees compared to student that are not integrated into campus,” Palardy said.

Vigliotti said the goal is for students to get the help they need, to locate helpful resources and gain confidence to succeed in college.

“There are a lot of significant differences between the way things happen in high school and the way they happen here,” she said. “This gives young people a chance to figure out where they can get the help they need on campus.”