The Importance of First-Year Experience in Higher Education


First-year experience is an important factor in shaping a student’s attitude and performance over time. However, a recent HEFCE report found that retention rates among students were just 6.6% in 2011-2012. Dropout rates were even higher for mature students, those aged between twenty-four and twenty-five. While there is no hard evidence to support this, males were significantly more likely to drop out of college than females. This is probably due to gender differences, but the low numbers of male students in higher education make a more rigorous analysis of this effect difficult.

The future of a country rests on the shoulders of students, and they should be engaged in cultural, political and economic affairs. In fact, students should strive to be change agents, as they are entrusted with many duties and responsibilities. However, some students are unable to master difficult concepts, and others are simply shy in class. It can be difficult to stay in class all day, which leads to poor attendance and a lower grade. In such cases, students may want to consider seeking academic help online. Not only is this type of learning more affordable than classroom learning, but it also saves time and energy on travelling and other costs.

In terms of computer skills, 93.4 percent of 4,374 respondents reported that they had access to the internet. Seventy percent of the senior respondents and 57.1 percent of the freshmen reported having personal desktop computers. Among the students, 11.9 percent used a personal digital assistant, or PDA. Interestingly, male students were more likely to own a PDA than females. In addition, 82 percent of students reported having cell phones.

Taking a job during college can also be beneficial for students. Working in a paid job enables students to practice teamwork skills, increase their conscientiousness and learn about their field. However, not all types of employment improve a student’s knowledge, such as technical skills. In fact, in 2012, only six percent of working students earned an associate’s degree, and many students in lower-income families worked in a job unrelated to their field of study.

At Brown University, students are encouraged to take intellectual risks and apply themselves to a variety of problems. The emphasis on flexibility is also evident in the curriculum, with undergraduates encouraged to apply their creativity to solve problems, take risks, and be deeply creative thinkers. Besides the academic rigor, students are encouraged to be entrepreneurial. If this is their passion, they are sure to be able to use their time at the University as an important way to affect change.

Before teaching a new course, instructors should research the course sequence. A colleague who taught the preceding course can lend you a hand in this research. In addition, you can ask him/her to share a copy of their syllabus, assignments, and exams. Pay close attention to the topics students covered and to the degree to which they applied their knowledge. For example, they may have been required to identify theories or make predictions. These insights can help you design a better course for your students.