by James Minor
Over the previous few month,s MCC Orientation Coordinator Casey Reid has been hard at work preparing for MCC’s newest required course. The new COLL100 course is a first-year seminar course similar to those typically required or offered at four year universities.
The course will cover basic information about the MCC network, such as MyMCC and Blackboard resources; on-campus resources like tutoring and financial aid; and college expectations and policies. It will also cover more universal topics such as learning and note-taking strategies; time and stress-management skills; budgeting, motivation, goals, and career exploration.
“A lot of students come in thinking they know how to be a student, but it’s very different being a college student than a high school student,” Reid said.
Starting in fall 2012, any first-time student at MCC with fewer than 12 credit hours completed after high school with a minimum GPA of 2.0 will take COLL 100. Students who will be excused include: visiting students, students enrolled in a class specifically for a professional development or work-related purpose, and students enrolled in a class solely for personal enrichment. English Language Learner (ELL or ESL) students who test below a 77 on the ESL Compass reading test will not take COLL 100 until they have successfully progressed to intermediate-level ESL classes.
“This course feels very important to me to at the least give them a connection on the campus,” Reid said. “We want students in, we want students out, and we want them to be successful,” Reid said.
Reid and the designers of the course hope it will better serve the students in their transition into college, Reid said. Their rationale stems from research performed at institutions that have the program. Nearly all boasted greater retention rates, higher GPAs, and increased academic abilities, according to Reid.
Matthew Brozovich, a high school senior planning on attending MCC next year, says he thinks it’s a good idea. “I think it would help reinforce knowledge about MCC and better acquaint them with the environment,” he said.
MCC performed a study of its own at Maple Woods. They split A+ students attending Maple Woods into 2 groups in autumn of 2009. One group took the GUID113 (the closest thing MCC had to an orientation course) and the other did not. The performances of the two groups in the following year were compared. The students in the pilot course earned higher GPAs, maintained their A+ funding at a higher rate, and were retained at a higher rate for the next two semesters.
“I wish I had been among one of the pilot students. It may have made things go a bit smoother,” said freshman Dasha Guzman.
The changes mean an overhaul for the old orientation program, too. The optional, one-day workshop is still available, but with a new name and some modified content. The “Big Event,” as it will be know will include different information than the COLL 100 course and is still recommended for incoming students.