UW-Madison faculty discussed ways to improve programs for first-year and transfer students at the annual First-Year Conference Friday.
Dr. Jennifer Keup, director of the National Resource Center for First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, said universities nationwide should integrate learning communities, diversity training and undergraduate research into their curriculum. She said these are among guidelines that can help first-year students succeed.
"We are basically creating educated and engaged citizens for the future that we feel can contribute economically, socially and personally," Keup said.
Keup said examples of these practices include the Go Big Read program and the First-Year Interest Group program, which allows freshmen to meet other students by placing them in the same, intimate seminar courses.
Also at the conference, faulty dispersed into breakout sessions focusing on different aspects of the first-year experience.
In one session, Senior Policy and Planning Analyst Clare Huhn discussed strategies to increase the number of transfer students to UW-Madison.
Huhn said the university will increase its partnerships with two-year colleges, rather than four-year institutions, for recruitment of transfer students.
Huhn argued partnerships with two-year institutions are more effective because students from four-year schools have already established a sense of belonging in their current colleges.
She said while the university currently enrolls around 1,700 transfer students per year, she hopes to see an increase to 1,850 students annually by 2015.
Participants in another session discussed changes the university will make to the SOAR programming.
UW-Madison Center for the First-Year Experience Assistant Director Annette McDaniel said SOAR will allot two days of academic advising instead of the current model that only has one. Coordinator of First-Year Programs David Laur said the change should prevent students from feeling rushed when they choose classes and it gives them the opportunity to discuss class options with parents and guests.