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New Program Aims To Boost Student Retention Rates

By Eric Holmes
UWRF University Communications

DEC. 4, 2006--A new pilot program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls aims to help students become successful and well-orientated members of the campus community by assisting them as they transition to and through college.

Launched this academic year as part of a two-year pilot project, the First Year Experience office sponsors programs and services that connect new students and transfer students with the UWRF campus community. Co-directors Miriam Huffman and Sarah Egerstrom want the FYE office to be a one-stop source for information, resources, and support that students need to be successful at UW-River Falls and beyond.

In addition, student's families are also encouraged to foster a strong connection with UWRF. "Close family, no matter if it is parents or grandparents, is an important factor in the success of an individual student, as they are there for that little extra nudge in the right direction," says Egerstrom. "Parents are great partners in the educational experience and should not be left out."

Toward that aim, the FYE organizes a family day on campus in the fall to help ensure the incorporation of family into college life. Families of students were invited to campus to sample the life of their college students. Athletics, recreation, entertainment, presentations, tours, children's activities and other events took place.

Another recent event sponsored by FYE was a presentation, "Can I Kiss You?" by Mike Domitrz, a nationally renowned consultant and speaker dating, communication and respect.

Other programs sponsored by the FYE include new student registration, Academic Day, new student and family communication vehicles, establishing a national honorary and emerging leaders program, and partnerships with faculty and staff that connect students with academic and co-curricular activities.

Because the FYE office is so new, staff is still working on developing the program. Ultimately though, Huffman and Egerstrom hope to improve the on campus retention rate by making students' everyday life on campus a little easier. Both have experience working directly with students in other capacities.

Egerstrom continues to work a half-time schedule in her former office, the UWRF admissions office, and coordinates student orientation services. Miriam Huffman has worked with student events and activities and had coordinated the fall opener event, Weeks Of Welcome (WOW) on campus. Both say it will now be much easier to synchronize the programs that introduce college life to incoming students and encourage the development of community while students learn on campus.

Organizers would like to the FYE to be a longstanding program on campus in order to strengthen the goal of making the transition to college for students and their families a successful endeavor.

For more information on the First Year Experience call Egerstrom or Huffman at 715-425-4444 or send an e-mail to .  


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:07:50 Central Daylight Time


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