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The First Year Experience Evolving to Maintain Inclusivity

(Photo Credit: University at Albany

By Adonia Wade | December 6, 2021

Every first year student at the University at Albany has their own personal experience that differs from the next student’s. The First Year Experience program offers a variety of first year courses ranging from basic freshman seminars to a transfer specific course, to ensure that no student feels alone. They are always working and evolving to become more inclusive, which they demonstrated this fall by implementing a new program geared towards helping first generation college students.

The First Year Experience is “designed to ensure that all first year students are able to navigate and be successful at UAlbany as a college student,” said Linda Krzykowski, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Engagement and the Executive Director of the First Year Experience program.

The program offers zero credit, six to eight week engagement classes that students can take in addition to their credited first year courses. The courses are an opportunity for the students to network, meet faculty and staff, and learn how to navigate college life specific to their journey.

First Year Experience created one of these courses for first generation college freshmen, which is a student whose parents never graduated or obtained a college degree.

“For the first generation college students we really tried to create a way for them to get to know other first generation freshmen. The research on first gen shows many of them come to college and they feel like they’re the only one who doesn’t have this figured out, they feel like they’re the only one who hasn’t cracked the code, everybody else understands how to do college and they just don’t have that insight,” said Krzykowski. “The reality is that’s not true, but that’s a feeling. So we wanted to make sure they were in a class with other students like them, that we could demystify this.”

During the eight week course, staff from the financial aid office were brought in to offer students guidance, and students were taught about the set up and structure of a university and how to get involved in different programs. There was even a class offered in which first generation faculty and administrators were introduced to show uniformity among the students and faculty.

The first generation course’s goal is to show first generation students that “all kinds of people have different journeys into and through college.”


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