Freshman year is a period of change for students, and getting acclimated to campus is essential for a smooth transition.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point offers First Year Seminar courses in hopes of easing students’ entrance into college.
Andrew Stoner, an assistant professor of public relations, teaches the gender, race and sexuality course.
Stoner’s hope for the students in his course is that they will form significant reasonings for their views. He said some students begin college perceiving the world in a particular way based on their experiences, which may be limited. His course is aimed to help students question and understand why they perceive things the way they do.
“We are writing papers, interviewing one another, going to community or campus events and watching a lot of good media,” Stoner said. “In this particular section, we will ask, ‘How does the mass media influence how I look at the world and the people in it?’”
Stoner enjoys helping freshmen understand what it takes to succeed and adjust to college.
Nancy LoPatin-Lummis, the director of general education at UWSP, is in charge of evaluating course proposals, training faculty and scheduling classes. LoPatin-Lummis said FYS courses are supposed to inform students of the expectations the university has and improve students’ critical thinking skills.
“It’s supposed to get students connected to the university,” LoPatin-Lummis said. “Faculty are specifically trained to help them navigate that transition from high school to college. The content is part of it, but the learning outcome is an equal part of it.”
Freshman history and political science major Cierra Reed is taking Stoner’s FYS class. Reed chose this particular course because she felt it would provide a good environment for intellectual discussion.
“Dr. Stoner is an excellent professor,” Reed said. “He makes the space in which the class is in very open. Since he is a communications professor, he also teaches a lot of us who have never been in a setting where we are used to contributing in discussions the necessary communication skills.”
Reed feels the course has helped to familiarize herself with college and given her the opportunity to learn about an interesting topic.
“It’s a very positive experience because there are not a lot of classes where you get to sit down and talk to people who are like-minded or opposite-minded,” Reed said.