New First -Year Experience Program Provides Comprehensive Support for Student Success

May 1, 2020 | News, UToday
By Jen Sorgenfrei

The University of Toledo will move new student orientation online for fall 2020 as Ohio continues to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, but entering students can still expect a robust introduction to college life through First Year Toledo, the University’s reimagined first-year experience program.

“Belonging, connecting and feeling a sense of purpose are key to student success,” said Michele Johnson, director of new student orientation. “We’ve developed First Year Toledo to help students connect with one another through the assets and perspectives they bring to their University experience, as well as help them realize that they are a driver and an advocate for their own success.”

First Year Toledo is a collaborative effort between the University’s Enrollment Management, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs divisions to ensure that all students are supported and empowered to achieve their college goals at UToledo from the start.

“Most of our incoming students had their final high school year cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dr. Tiffany Preston Whitman, director of student success initiatives. “First Year Toledo will play a vital role in helping them transition to college life, especially students who traditionally have been underserved. To help all of our students succeed in their first year and return for their second year, it’s important to directly communicate some of the unwritten and unspoken expectations that are part of a college experience, such as engagement and inclusion.”

The program incorporates Rocket Launch new student orientation, online learning modules and fall semester Welcome Weekend activities to immerse students in UToledo culture; excite them about the intellectual opportunities of college; familiarize them with important health, safety and wellness resources; and immerse them in student life as they begin college classes. Students will transition directly from these activities into a First-Year Experience course in their first semester, providing a seamless set of just-in-time supports and opportunities to maximize success in the first year and beyond.

“First Year Toledo, and the ways in which staff from across campus have come together in its design, is a shining example of UToledo’s unshakeable focus on student success,” said Dr. Denise Bartell, associate vice provost for student success. “This focus is now more important than ever, and our top priority is providing the wholistic support every student needs to be successful.”

Rocket Launch new student orientation for entering students will begin the week of May 25, following Memorial Day. Students will receive links to the First Year Toledo summer online modules via their Rocket email account beginning in June after they have completed Rocket Launch. Rocket Welcome Weekend activities will be announced as plans are finalized.

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