CLEVELAND, Miss. — The Student Success Center at Delta State University hosted a seminar June 5-6 to train and certify instructors participating in the First Year Experience (FYE) program. The seminar was led by Dr. Dan Friedman of the University of South Carolina and DSU’s Kristen Land, FYE Director.
Delta State has offered First Year Seminar (FYS) for incoming students, freshmen, and transfers, since 2014. FYS is a 1 credit, 1 hour course specifically designed to help students transition and become acclimated to college life at Delta State during their first semester here. In October of 2022, the Student Success Center was awarded a grant funded through the Robert M. Hearin Foundation to revise FYS and expand services for first semester students throughout their first year. The expanded program, First Year Experience, includes a revised version of the FYS course as well as programming to extend past the course into the students’ second semester through peer mentorships, check-ins, workshops, and other events.
Friedman heads the most successful first-year program in the country. Land said, “USC has offered First Year Seminar for 51 years, and they do it very well. Having Dr. Friedman on our campus allows us to learn from the best, improve and expand our practices to reflect best practice, and pushes our instructors and program in a positive direction which will translate to happier, more engaged students and increase the quality of teaching and learning in our FYS course and across campus.”
Many of DSU’s FYS instructors are professors or instructors in other departments while many are staff who are passionate about Delta State and student success. Land said, “We are all so excited to learn from Dr. Friedman what works and how he and his team are able to engage and support students so well so that we can translate his success into practices on our campus.”
Dr. Friedman said, “I was brought in to help as Delta State re-envisions its first-year seminar. We try to help new students acclimate to life at the university, and to take advantage of this
opportunity and to thrive here. There are researched best practices in the field of first year seminars, and I’m here to talk about how to make these things work, from the basic philosophies to the key ingredients that lead to their success.”
Friedman continued, “The number one predictor of a student’s decision to stay at a university as a result of a course like this is their sense of belonging. The most important thing that needs to happen in the first-year seminar is helping students feel like they belong here, that they are valued, welcomed, included and that they build community. Students who attend a first year experience class are much more likely to graduate from college.”
Dr. Andrew Novobilski, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at DSU said, “Delta State is fortunate to be able to learn from Dr. Friedman. His presentation and the research backing it up clearly shows the importance of engaging with the student as a whole person in enabling their success.”