First Year Seminar to Aid New Students

Austin Community College plans to introduce a mandatory first-year seminar to better prepare incoming students for their college career.

Pending approval by the college’s Academic and Campus Affairs Council (ACAC), the seminar would be required of all students attending college for the first time (except dual-credit high school students), impacting about 9,000 -10,000 students yearly.

“More and more research is indicating that mandatory first-year seminar courses lead to increased persistence from the first to second years of college,” says Kathleen Christensen, vice president of student services. “Even our own students have told us they wish they knew more about the challenges and expectations of college beforehand.”

The seminar is a key strategy proposed by the college’s Student Success Initiative Goal Team I, which focuses on increasing persistence term-to-term and fall-to-fall. Â ACAC will vote on the proposed seminar later this spring. If approved, the college hopes to launch the course in spring 2015.

Seminar details

  • 15 contact hours
  • Up to 400 sections offered, 25 students per section
  • Students do not earn a grade, but must achieve proficiency in defined areas
  • Content covers topics such as aligning academic goals with career plans, using college resources, effective study and test-taking strategies, and communication and collaboration skills.
  • Students assessed a seminar fee, currently proposed at $60.

Pilot seminars planned

If approved, the college will conduct a small pilot of the seminar this summer, and additional pilots in the fall. Students would be able to participate in a pilot at no charge.

Seminar instructors

Seminar instructors initially would be recruited from college faculty and staff. Instructors must have a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree with three years of community college teaching experience. All instructors would be interviewed and complete a training session on course outcomes, curriculum, and suggested activities, currently being developed by a faculty committee working with ACC’s Instructional Development Department.

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