First-Year Students


The first year of college is critical to both student retention and success in the following years. The links and resources below provide an overview of today's first-year students and suggest strategies for helping them make the transition from high school to college.


General Resources

Best Practices for Teaching First-year Undergraduates (Carnegie Mellon University).
This online booklet discusses the special needs of first year students and then presents best practices compiled from experienced faculty who have used them successfully with first-year students. Includes guidelines for recognizing and responding to students who may be experiencing difficulties.

Teaching First Year Students (Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia).
Describes the challenges of teaching first year students and presents specific strategies for planning for and dealing with these issues in the classroom. Contains additional resources and handouts for students. Although this is an Australian site, the students and the challenges they present appear very much like those in the U.S.

National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, NRCFYE (University of South Carolina).
The Center’s mission is “to support and advance efforts to improve student learning and transitions into and through higher education.” Resources include publications, conferences, institutes, an electronic newsletter, and access to online materials and syllabi to support the first year experience and beyond.  A rich and varied comprehensive resource.

"Changing Institutional Culture for First-Year Students and Those Who Teach Them," Raymond Smith (Indiana University Bloomington). In About Campus, March-April 2003, pp.3-8.
In the 1990's Indiana University Bloomington began an initiative to enhance the first-year experience for students in order to improve retention. This article describes the initiative and the ensuing far-reaching administrative changes and curricular reforms.

Teaching College Freshmen (Radford University, Faculty Development Center).
This is a summary of "Chapter 1: From High School to College" in Bette La Sere Erickson and Diane Weltner Strommer's Teaching College Freshmen, Jossey-Bass, 1991. The summary describes and explains differences seen by the authors between former and present incoming students, including changes in attitudes, values, and goals.

Knowing Your Students Better: A Key to Involving First-Year Students,” Joseph Fenty. (University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, Occasional Paper #9, 1997). Adobe Acrobat/PDF.
Presents the results of the CIRP New Student Survey at the University of Michigan from 1993-1995, and describes 8 things faculty can do to involve first year students in the academic experience and help them attain their educational and personal goals.

Teaching First-Year Students (University of Washington, Center for Instructional Development and Research).
Links to several of the Center’s bulletins on aspects of teaching college freshmen plus seven online articles related to teaching first-year students.
First Year Inquiry (North Carolina State University).
Models and materials from NC State’s first year program.

Back to top