First-year students see high course dropout rate, resources available to help

November 15, 2o16

Mikayla Nunn

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     An unfamiliar environment, new life responsibilities and more challenging courses can make the transition to college overwhelming for some students.

     The deadline to drop classes without the dean’s approval passed Oct. 28, leaving first-year students with the highest dropout rate in courses this semester.

     Brett Fugate, director of Academic Advising, attributes student struggles to their time-management skills.

     “It’s not just time management from a standpoint of study hours, but it is managing your time with everything that is going on in life,” Fugate said.

     “Overall, students do well with this, but it is a really big learning curve.”

     Because first-year students have higher dropout rates, UCCS implemented the Gateway Program Seminar. These mandatory courses are designed to help integrate students into college and answer questions about college-level classes, Fugate said.

     In order to better advertise their resources, Academic Advising is involved during freshman orientation. Toward the beginning of the year, the office emails students with updates.

     The office also uses an early alert system, allowing faculty to contact students who may be struggling.

     James Vivian, a chemistry instructor who teaches CHEM 1201 (Introduction to Chemistry) and 1211 (Introduction to Organic and Biochemistry), said his course is known to be challenging and has a 50 percent dropout rate.

     The dropout rates are increasing due to a lack of student effort, according to Vivian.

     “Students are not coming in prepared. They lack the background or the study skills. Reason one is very preparatory; it’s all about what happens before they get here,” Vivian said.

     “The other part is what they don’t do it once they get here. They need to come in and get help. And if I had another twenty to thirty students do that, we wouldn’t have a problem.”

     Fugate believes that students avoid getting extra help out of isolation, embarrassment and a lack of knowledge about available resources.

     “I think students who aren’t sure how to handle things or who their resources are do sometimes feel a sense that they are the only ones struggling in the class,” said Fugate.

     “Or they start blaming it on something and not seeing how there are so many people here who want to talk about it and help students think well about their options.”

     The Excel Centers on campus also offer individual and group tutoring in courses from the sciences to language studies.

     Along with time management skills and difficulty with course material, students may drop classes due to the work load and course content that didn’t match students’ expectations.

     But sometimes it’s just a professor’s teaching style that causes a student to drop a class, said Haley Slezosky, a pre-med sophomore.

     “I knew it was going to be a hard class, and so I applied myself and worked hard. I got good grades on all the homework and did everything I could. But the exam was written so poorly I had to drop the class because there was no way I could pass.”

     Vivian said he encourages students to initiate the first steps in improving their classroom performance.

     “Simply be proactive, get help and use the instructor as a resource,” he said.