Program encourages freshmen campus involvement

Potential freshmen pick up registration information and course catalogs for the upcoming school year during Preview Day Nov. 8, 2014. Officials said the purpose of events like Preview Day is to get students acclimated with campus.  Director of the First-Year Experience Program Matthew Little and Enrollment Marketing Coordinator Nikki Yarber developed First Year Frenzy, a project aimed at involving students on campus during their freshman year.

by Student Writer Shaun Swinehart

While the university’s attention is drawn to increasing enrollment, retaining first-year students is just as important, officials said.

Director of the First-Year Experience Program Matthew Little and Enrollment Marketing Coordinator Nikki Yarber said they developed First Year Frenzy, a project aimed at involving students academically and socially on campus during their freshman year.

An incentive for participating in the program is the chance to receive a $1,000 scholarship, Little said.

“We wanted to come up with a way to help encourage students to help them be successful and also create new traditions on campus that celebrate the success as people work their way through that first year,” he said.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must attend a learning support or writing workshop, a student panel discussion, Research Day, the Career Carnival, the End-of-the-Year Party and must preregister for the proceeding fall semester.

It is important for students to feel involved and comfortable on campus because it makes them more likely to choose to stay, Yarber said.

“I think it’s really, really important for freshmen to be involved on campus because getting involved helps you meet and connect with people who will help you be successful later on,” said freshman Chandon Hines. “I’m part of the Honors Program, and being part of that has really helped me plug in with volunteering and meeting other professors who can help me in my future.”

Freshman Allison Tucker said the First-Year Frenzy program will benefit freshmen who may not have previously been involved on campus.

“Last semester I sat in my room all of the time,” Tucker said. “Then I got involved with a sorority.”

She said joining Alpha Delta Chi helped her meet other students and become an active student on campus.

“If we have students who are engaged and getting the skills they need to be successful, that means they will come back the year after that, and the year after that until graduation,” Little said.

Little said he hopes in addition to having students return to UNA after their first year, students have a positive experience and are able to share positive opinions about their first year with their peers.

He also said he hopes the End-of-the-Year Party creates a tradition of students enjoying themselves.

Yarber and Little encourage participants to download the UNA Pride Fans Rewards app. The app allows students to check into events more conveniently as opposed to recording attendance manually, they said.

The app is not mandatory to qualify for the $1,000 scholarship drawing.