Starting college is undeniably a major life event and can be incredibly daunting to some students, especially first generation college students and late-bloomers. The First Year Experience program is a crash course in navigating and thriving in a college environment. An umbrella title given to several interrelated programs, FYE is helping students assimilate, succeed, and become the autonomous, resilient, and confident neophytes they were born to be. Initiated in 2013 after the arrival of Cuyahoga Community College’s most recent President, Dr.Alex Johnson, the program is provided as a lifeline for students who have no idea where financial aid starts, and student services ends. The course is available across all campuses, and is administered by a team of certified professionals in the fields of both education and psychology. The required course and its activities, seminars and workshops, give a small boost of confidence and understanding. However, what many of us do not know is that the buck doesn’t stop at the class itself.
Dr. Terry Webb has spent a great deal of time and energy making sure new students have the confidence and proficiency it will take to traverse this new environment. Serving as the Assistant Dean of Counseling, Dr. Webb’s face and title is well known to the students of the Metropolitan Campus as he has personally conducted numerous workshops on campus. Furthermore, he also works hand-in-hand with students who have competing responsibilities, learning disabilities, or even those who have had what seems like a streak of bad luck. Alongside his credentials in education, Webb is licensed and enthusiastic when it comes to mental health aid and support. When I asked for him to put FYE into his own words, he compared the process of sculpting a successful college student to something else he enjoys whole-heartedly; Yard work.
“I am one of those people who enjoy getting outside and doing yard work. When you prepare your lawn in the spring, you need to fertilize the soil and introduce the nutrients to the roots.” Dr. Webb explained, giggling at his own choice of simile. “In order to fully benefit from the nutrients you are adding, you need to go through and trim the dead and dying ends. That is just like a student coming to Tri-C. We will give you the nutrients to fertilize your soils and help you to shed off the counterproductive habits and tendencies you don’t realize is draining you.”
However, one of the biggest reasons FYE is so effective is the empathy shown by the faculty. Understanding that life continues regardless of one’s collegiate responsibilities, the counselors at Tri-c will help you sort through any red or yellow tape you may come across, academically, financially, and emotionally. Be it poverty, learning disability or anxiety, FYE connects you early on with resources and options for overcoming all the hurdles and misfortunes that lay in your path. Even things like help with self-perception and validation is offered through these outlets. Dr.Webb himself stressing the importance of the course helps you identify strengths and weaknesses and can help you organize and sift through all the calluses and handicaps one may have acquired on the paths that led us to the doors of this institution. Dr. Webb referred to this as a “Biopsychosocial Approach”; Factoring in one’s biological, psychological and socio-environmental components to better assist with their development. Essentially, we need reminding that we are not incapable or too damaged to dominate in our efforts; Rather we just need a bit of trimming around the unseemly bits.
FYE provides a friendly reminder that we are human and life is confusing and uncertain, but we as Tri—Students and customers, have access to a myriad of people, programs, and promotion here at Tri-c. Empathy and motivation early on is a sure fire way to boost a student’s chances of success. Tri-c hopes this program will keep the molehills from seeming like mountains, and lets students approach this new, bewildering journey with vigor and grace.
According to a First-Year Survey conducted by CIRP located at University of California, Los Angeles,
For more information or assistance with any hiccup, snag, or downright barricade you may stumble upon in your academic odyssey, please contact your campuses Counseling Center to schedule an appointment. We are not alone in this. So please, remember the warm words of our old pal Mr. (Fred) Rogers: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Visit: Tri-c.edu/Counseling-Center for more information.