Washburn’s First Year Experience, or FYE, was started in 2011 as a program to help freshmen students, both traditional and non-traditional, transition into the college life.
This school year of 2013-2014, the class WU 101 was added to the program as a mandatory class and a requirement for graduation. Traditional freshmen take WU 101 and non-traditional freshmen take WU 101 Advanced Learner, but for the most part the classes are the same. Besides the class itself, the FYE requires students to attend extracurricular activities such as sporting events and be involved in community service.
Elizabeth Burgett, a junior mass media major, has been peer educating for two years. As a peer educator, she helps facilitate some of the classes and does grade checks and mentors students who are struggling in their academics. She believes the FYE program is effective.
“I think overall the program is successful and students should invest in it because it will help them be successful,” said Burgett.
Freshman art education major Miranda Figgs, who took WU 101 last fall, has mixed feelings about the program. According to her, WU 101 as a class has a reputation of being somewhat like an elementary school, and she says she finds this claim to be somewhat true.
“We went on class field trips to look at buildings,” said Figgs. “We did things like the ‘Amazing Library Race.’ We also had to do the mandatory read[ing] just to make sure we could read. We never took any tests or really wrote about our thoughts.”
Figgs says there were some helpful elements, such as class discussions. The class covered topics such as what activities there are to do in Topeka. For the most part, though, Figgs says the class did not help her personally very much.
“I do think it would have been helpful for someone that really didn’t know much about what college is like or [didn’t know] much about the topics that they’re studying,” said Figgs.
Ann Callies, Director of the University Tutoring and Writing Center, teaches WU 101 classes and has taught first year programs for years. Regarding FYE, Callies believes that, for the most part, the program has good people who care about seeing first year students transition smoothly into the college environment and succeed there. Callies believes the program with the WU 101 rendition will be a success, but seeing as this is only the first year, time will tell.