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K-State First has opportunities for first-year students

By Lauren Edelman
Assistant Coordinator, K-State First

A great college experience starts with a great first year. K-State First, the university’s first-year experience program offers a wide variety of opportunities specifically for first-year students that can set students on the path to academic success, degree attainment, and satisfaction in their careers and personal lives.

K-State First is dedicated to helping students transition into college successfully as a way to increase overall student success. To help with this transition, K-State First houses four programs specifically designed to connect first-year students with faculty in a way that promotes learning in the classroom and beyond. Those four programs are Connecting Across Topics (CAT) Communities, Guide to Personal Success (GPS), K-State Book Network (KSBN), and First Year Seminars (FYS). Through these programs students gain communication skills, critical thinking, community building, application of learning, and much more.

K-State First was founded in 2008 with 270 students and continues to serve more first-year students every year. This year is no exception with nearly 1,200 students participating in First-Year Seminars and CAT Communities, and 380 students participating in the Guide to Personal Success (GPS) mentoring program. Additionally, through the University's common reading program known as the K-State Book Network (KSBN), K-State First reaches over 3,800 first-year students.

The First-Year Seminar (FYS) program provides students with the chance to take small, interactive classes. In First-Year Seminars students get the opportunity to work closely with faculty to apply what they are learning. This spring, K-State First is offering 14 FYS classes, each taught by talented and enthusiastic instructors. All classes carry general education credit and meet the program of study requirements for most students and most majors.

First-year students and students new to K-State in the spring may enroll in one of these FYS classes. Students who have not yet taken a FYS class have top priority. All sections enroll by permission only. For most of these classes, permissions are easily obtained by contacting K-State First at kstatefirst@k-state.edu.

CAT Communities are learning communities designed to connect first-year students through common interests. In the fall semester a group of 22 students enroll in two general education courses and one connections course. Designed around student interests, CAT Communities offer mentoring from a professor and an advanced undergraduate Learning Assistant who share the students' interests. This fall, K-State First offered 16 CAT Communities. Examples include: The Art of Engineering, The Psychology of Prejudice, Understand the Weather, and Making the Ultimate Playlist: American Culture Revealed. Enrollment for CAT Communities takes place during the summer/early fall.

GPS, a first-year mentoring program, matches first-year students with a K-State professional or alum to provide a professional reference point for first-year students. GPS experienced record enrollment this year with over 380 mentees and 240 mentors. The GPS program hosts monthly Connect events that provide a fun and convenient way for mentors and mentees to connect over the semester, but mentor pairs are also encouraged to meet on their own time. Past Connect Events include the High Ropes at the K-State Challenge Course, a VIP K-State Basketball game, 80’s Trivia Night, and bowling at the Union. Students interested in signing up for a GPS mentor for the spring semester should contact gps@k-state.edu.

The K-State Book Network (KSBN) is an all university reading program that selects a common read for the academic year and coordinates exciting classroom and campus activities to correspond with the reading. All first-year students who attend June Orientation and Enrollment receive a copy of the book. This year’s common read was Ready Player One. KSBN sponsored an alternate-reality game and brought author Ernest Cline, to speak at McCain Auditorium. Books selected for previous years include The Hunger Games, Zeitoun, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Do you know first-year students who would be interested in any of these programs? Please visit k-state.edu/first for more information or email kstatefirst@k-state.edu. Stay up-to-date on all current events by following us on Twitter @kstatefirst and liking our page (K-State First) on Facebook.