They step foot into the widespread, grassy area where wood-like sculptures are reflected throughout the campus entrance. As they enter the building division, the brown, wood-like doors lurk through the new students’ eyes. Confused on which room to enter, this is just one of the many obstacles they face as “froshes.”
As first-year Pathways (FYP) students browse through their class schedules, the endless amount of classes offered are indications of their path for transferring to a four-year institution or graduating. Despite the many courses they are allowed to take, FYP students are required to enroll in College One, a first-year seminar designed to foster success in students through problem solving, researching and analyzing information.
The first College One class was offered back in 2012, being that extensive research was conducted prior to designing the course’s curriculum. With 29 classes being offered during the first year, college one’s sections have grown significantly over the years, amounting to 78 as of fall 2017.
Not only is college one an important component of the Pathways program and to Pathways students, the course is also diverse due to the wide-ranging professors who are assigned to teach.
“It’s not just English professors or counselors [that are teaching] the class,” said first year Pathways Leader Shelah Rose, who is also an instructor on the campus. “It’s anyone who teaches any subject, because the idea is … that we’re all working together about how to make students successful.”
The big changes to the seminar course, as expressed by Rose, were the integration of more major exploration, career skills, and an offering of a new section designated for students majoring in STEM.
While more students are pursuing STEM degrees every year, Pathways followed the trend and diversified college one by creating the Pathways STEM program. The new program advocates for career workshops, research, and internships so that students can learn career-oriented skills for their future.
“Dr. Valerie Foster created the STEM program curriculum,” Rose said. “It’s still college one, [whereas] there’s still critical reading and metacognition but through STEM and practicing ways of researching.”
College One students are further required to present the course’s selected reading at the end of the semester, based on PCC’s reading program: “One Book, One College.” The program’s purpose is to offer an engaging environment where students can share their intellectual experience and “foster a rich dialogue among all campus constituents.”
“A committee of teachers from different disciplines come together and suggest different books,” Rose said. “And then, we meet and discuss the values of one specific book. The biggest thing is [figuring] if there are enough topics to support the student conference.”
Through means of metacognition and critical reading to foster success, colleges like Dartmouth and Swarthmore have already incorporated first-year seminars to their system.
“It’s important to consider that college one is considered a high impact practice, by a number of organizations including the Association of American Colleges and Universities,” said FYP director Dr. Brock Klein. “And one of the things they looked at was the value of seminars, for first-year students.”
In response to research documenting that time management is one of the biggest challenges students face, those in the program are taught a variety of skills such as managing their time effectively and utilizing different resources presented.
Students in college one are engaged in an environment that emphasizes intellectual growth and classroom discussions pertaining to their academics.
“[College one] helped me manage my time well,” said Tasneem Qutob, a first-year computer science student. “I used to do my work last minute, especially when writing essays. But now, I do my essays early and have time to get tutors to check my work.”
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