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Seminars introduce freshmen to UConn academic life (Released: 8/6/96)

by Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- To help freshmen adjust to college and get to know other students, the University of Connecticut is offering new programs to give them a chance to work with faculty members and other students in small groups.

The voluntary, semester-long programs begin with the start of fall semester classes on Aug. 28.

Students who participate in the programs will choose one of three one-credit academic options. They are:

  • Freshman interest groups in which about 20 students will enroll in the same cluster of theme-related courses with other students who have similar interests. Those themes include global issues, public policy or environmental science.
  • Freshman seminars in which groups of 10 to 15 students will take a discussion-oriented course on a contemporary theme taught by a senior faculty member. Students usually have to wait until they are in a particular major and have spent several years at UConn before they can take a seminar. The freshman seminars will require guided research and writing.
  • Learning skills seminars in which seven or more groups of 15 to 20 freshmen will learn about Uiversity resources and facilities, how to improve their academic and interpersonal skills, and how to manage their time. A team of faculty, professional staff skilled in advising, and advanced undergraduate students will direct the learning skills seminars.

"When a student comes on campus, it's just a few weeks after graduating from high school," said Suman Singha, a professor and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources who will lead one of the learning skills groups. "The transition doesn't occur in that short a period."

Steven Wisensale, an associate professor and acting dean of Family Studies added: "Students coming here in their first year feel lost in such a huge university. One way to address that is to try to reduce the University to a small college atmosphere. This will open doors for them to the whole University."

Judith Meyer, associate provost for academic affairs, said the university expects about 10 percent of the estimated 2,300 freshmen to participate in the program.

She said students in the special program also will attend other classes together. Those may include a biology lab and English 105, the basic freshman composition course.

"We hope to make the students feel less anonymous in their lecture courses," Meyer said.

Students enrolled in the programs while attending on-campus orientation sessions during the summer.

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