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Jack Rhodes
Office of Enrollment Management

Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2008

IU Bloomington launches effort to enhance support for first-year students

Aug. 27, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Long known for its programs to ease the transition from high school to college life, Indiana University Bloomington is launching an initiative to provide support for students throughout their first year on campus.

The Office of First Year Experience Programs will work with various campus units, including academic units, Residential Programs and Services and the Division of Student Affairs, to enhance existing transition programs and establish new opportunities for beginning students at IU Bloomington.

Bradford Woods

First-year students take part in the IUBeginnings Leadership Challenge program at IU's Bradford Woods.

Print-Quality Photo

"In building the type of academic environment and student profile aspired to by our campus, creating a strong first-year experience program is critical," said Roger Thompson, vice provost for enrollment management. "I believe, in a short period of time, we will look back on the creation and development of this effort and realize we did something that benefited thousands of students and made their experience better."

Thompson announced that Jack Rhodes, associate vice provost and director of orientation programs, will be in charge of the initiative.

"Our orientation program is one of the best in the country, if not the best, and that led us to think about how we could enhance the freshman experience," Thompson said. "I believe Jack has the perfect background to develop our efforts in this area."

The goal of the first-year initiative is to help students achieve success by connecting them with a range of campus resources, making the large campus seem small and personal and ensuring students' experience will be academically, socially and personally enriching.

"Our campus must continuously work to provide a learning culture which stimulates students to become engaged in all facets of university life," said Rhodes. "We view the creation of the Office of First Year Experience Programs as another example of the university's commitment to fostering student success."

As part of the effort, the Office of First Year Experience Programs will:

  • Establish liaisons with key units on campus, including academic units and Residential Programs and Services.
  • Design electronic communications with first-year students and communications with faculty and staff regarding first-year issues and resources.
  • Develop a new Web site to highlight first-year experiences and make it easier for students to learn about programs and services that the campus offers.
  • Create more intentional outreach programs for family members of new students.
  • Work with the campus to integrate a "Common Reading" experience into orientation and first-year programming.
  • Establish "Student to Student" peer programs, and utilize online communities.
  • Set up an exit-interview intervention program for first-year students who are thinking about withdrawing from the university.

The IU Office of Orientation Programs has received national recognition for programs such as New Student Orientation, Welcome Week, IUBeginnings and New Student Service Day, and the campus residential life program is a national model. Freshman-to-sophomore retention rates at IU Bloomington have topped 88 percent, well above national averages. But campus officials say that more can be done to engage all students in campus life, as they seek to boost the retention rate past 90 percent.

For more information for new and prospective students, see For resources for parents, see