Upperclassmen help freshmen succeed

A recent study on student retention revealed that 37 percent of freshmen do not return to UVU after their first semester, according to the Phi Theta Kappa Society. From this research, the Freshman Advocate program was created to help freshmen understand what resources are on campus to help guarantee their success in college.

“UVU has so many resources geared towards student success that are often overlooked,” said Amy Howell, a Freshman Advocate. “It is amazing to see the difference that utilizing resources can make in a student’s life.”

According to Ian Sorensen, assistant developmental math professor and assistant chair of Phi Theta Kappa, another study conducted by Jeff E. Hoyt and Michelle Lundell at UVU revealed that the students least likely to utilize campus resources were freshmen. Sorensen explained that they discovered there was a need to connect freshmen to resources on campus by using upperclassmen as freshman advocates.

“Here’s a person that cares about them, that knows them by name, who is not their mother, but is responsible to help them anyway that the freshman needs,” explained Sorensen.

“As advocates, our involvement with students typically ranges from frequent emails to weekly meetings or phone calls,” Howell said. “The Freshman Advocate program is important because it gives students one more chance to be successful at UVU.”

Howell explained the benefits of being an advocate include leadership experience, service hours, college credit, making new friends and making a difference in someone’s education.

To serve as an advocate, an upperclassmen must have a 3.0 GPA minimum for the last two semesters, have a declared major, and have completed over 24 credits. The advocates will then take CLSS 240R, taught by Sorensen and Marni Sanft.

“The course is a practicum for this program. We use the class period to train,” explained Sorensen. “It’s a two-credit class for one hour a week, the second credit is for interacting with the freshmen. They should try to get in contact with them, motivate them, help them overcome road blocks, keeping them informed on important milestones, being another contact for them.”

Sorensen said that the Freshman Advocate program is open to all freshmen or upperclassmen. He further explained that freshmen benefit from the program because they are partnered with a knowledgeable upperclassman who is well aware of campus resources.

The Freshman Advocate program began as a collaboration between Phi Theta Kappa and Student Success & Retention. It has been expanded to include other areas within University College.

The goal of the Freshman Advocate program is to have 20 advocates this year. According to Sorensen, the future goal would be to have a large freshman advocacy workforce around 400 to 500 students who are trained to help students.

For more information about becoming an advocate or to receive assistance from the program, contact Ian Sorensen at ian.sorensen@uvu.edu

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