Sept. 8, 2014

Kyle Guthrie
kguthri2@uccs.edu

In the midst of a continuing influx of first-year students, the Gateway Program Seminar has recently changed from a voluntary seminar for incoming students to a required one.

The seminar aims to welcome incoming students to the university and provide a high impact educational experience for all first-year college students, according to its supporters.

The seminar is a component of the campus’ Compass Curriculum, an academic re-evaluation created in order to discover and implement an expanded scope of what a traditional college education can offer to its students.

The curriculum is designed to give students the tools that many employers are looking for, such as creativity, core problem solving abilities, professional ethics, and collaborative skills.

Carrie Arnold, assistant director of GPS and Honors Program, explained that this is not just an academic experiment or unproven theory, but an institutional implementation that has already proven to have positive results with both incoming students and retention rates.

“It’s been proven to work,” Arnold explained. “We have discovered that the Gateway Program Seminar is the number one factor of student retention, and that is what we want for students. We want them to feel involved, we want them to stay.”

Arnold said in addition to higher retention rates and providing better tools for the professional working world, the seminar aims to make students feel much more involved with the school and feel like they are also a part of the local community.

“The goal of the GPS is to integrate students through college academic and social atmospheres,” Arnold said, explaining that the program helps students create a bond with the school that they may not have made otherwise.

“It’s a holistic approach to integrate them into the academic and social life of college that they may not be accustomed to, and everyone seems extremely happy with it,” she said.

While the new requirements for the seminar seem to be going over well with the students and faculty, another change in policy seems to be drawing a lot of attention.

All freshmen who do not live in a 30-mile radius of UCCS must live in campus housing for at least their first year of college.

Like GPS, this new legislation seems to be aimed at easing the integration of students into the new academic and social way of college life.

Barbara Gaddis, the executive director of the Office of First Year Experience, explained that the policy was created to help students fully grasp the culture and experiences of college.

“One thing we looked at when forming this policy was better retention and academic scores,” Gaddis said. “We’ve had students commute from relatively distant cities like Denver and Fort Collins, and something like that really takes its toll on the student and prevents them from being as involved as they might wish to be.”

Gaddis explained that long commutes make a college student feel ostracized from the community, even if they work very hard at being involved in on-campus clubs, events and organizations.

By making the students live on campus, the policy looks to increase desires to become more involved in the community and college, and reduce the time required to get to and from the campus events.