The First-Year Experience program was implemented at the
University of Wisconsin - Stevens
Point this year to assist new students
in their transition to college life.Director of the program, Susan
Rufledt, explains that the goal of the
program is to get new students to feel
a sense of belonging by encouraging
them to belong, engage, and commit.
According to the program’s
website on the UWSP homepage,
“The First-Year Experience provides
opportunities and activities to foster
self-discovery and responsibility,
encourage diverse University
connections and promote the
development of personal educational
goals for new students as they
transition to our community.”
The program will ultimately
contribute to “greater student success
and retention,” Rufledt said.
She said the experience allows
students to take control of their
success and helps them to become
more comfortable with the university
so they want to return for their
“The First-Year Experience
program collaborates with different
departments, programs, and advisors
to provide experiences that are
helpful for students in their first
year,” Rufledt said.
This year, the program teamed
up with programs such as Residential
Living and Centertainment to
provide opportunities and purposeful
activities to help students reach the
three core values: belong, engage, and commit.
Orientation was the first stepping-stone for new students.
There, they were connected to a
“peer mentor” who introduced the
students to the campus and informed
them of upcoming events and crucial
information,” Rufledt said.
The peer mentor also adds their
group of students to a Facebook page,
allowing everyone in the group to
connect with their peers even before
Welcome Week is the second
stage for new students. Here, they
get the chance to meet the people
of their Facebook group face-to-face
and bond in person. They attend
events such as a comedian, Screen on
the Green, and Labor of Love.
“These activities give students
the opportunity to make mistakes,
get lost and then get found again,”
The last stage of the program is
called MAP-Works. This stage allows
the peer mentors and other faculty
and staff members to check in with
the new students. Surveys will be
taken the third week of class, as
well as two other times through out
the semester. These surveys will ask
questions to make sure things are
going well for the students, and if
there is an indication of stress, the
student can reach out and will be
provided with help.
Orientation and Welcome-Week
are mandatory, but other programs
beneficial to new students learning
about UWSP are voluntary. These
partner programs, such as ARC
for Success and First Year Seminar
classes, are listed on the program’s website.
As new students get more familiar with the campus, activities offered,
and groups to attend, they can thank this program for making them feel
more comfortable in college.