QC program helps freshmen adjust to college life

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Every student has been there before–figuring out what classes to take, deciding a major, getting lost on campus–it’s all a part of freshmen year. Adjusting from high school to college isn’t easy.

Queens College offers a program called Freshmen Year Initiative (FYI) to help. FYI is a program designed to help freshmen with their college transition by placing them into two co-taken courses for their first semester at QC.

One of those courses is English 110: College Writing, and the other fulfills one of QC’s general education requirements. Each of these pairings is known as a “community” and aims to bring students together with common experiences to build lasting friendships.

The program features 43 mentors, each with different majors and minors, whose goal it is to advise freshmen and provide them with key information they need in order to properly adjust to college.

Jorge Velez, senior, English and secondary education major, is a mentor supervisor. He has been part of FYI for three years now.

“The process from high school to college is tough, and our program is really good at establishing an acclamation process. We have mentors for our freshmen classes who provide the students with information about the college that they wouldn’t find or know otherwise,” Velez said.

These mentors are available both in-person and through email, and hold office hours conveniently scheduled during a time when FYI freshmen have neither of their two courses scheduled.

Diana Matute, senior, political science major and psychology minor, is also a mentor supervisor.

“We’re mentors and students, so we understand the freshmen year frustration. We’re able to help because we have been there–we’re students helping students. With us, you don’t have to worry about anything, and can just be yourself,” Matute said.

Dr. Martin Braun is the program’s director and said that FYI aims to be a safe haven for freshmen on campus.

“Whenever they need help with anything, from classwork to just needing someone to talk to, [we’re here]. It’s hard and strange to be thrown into this new experience. For example, [as with] the whole idea of making a schedule, students aren’t prepared to know the difference in courses, and can take wasteful, dead-end classes that serve them no benefit in the future. I want them to see that they can trust us. We’re all a family,” Braun said.

FYI also has a variety of resources for freshmen, like informational handbooks, workshops, and opportunities to work over the summer helping freshmen register for classes.

“FYI is not just academic, but builds relationships as well. Students remain friends for a long time, get questions answered, seek help, and gain familiarity with one another. FYI is an exceptional program that offers more than anyone can imagine, bringing together strength and unity,” office administrator Susan Braver said.

Shavany Reed, a junior psychology major, was a part of the program when she was a freshman. “I appreciated how welcoming the members were–they helped us navigate every aspect of college life and made me feel right at home,” Reed said.

“I’m a big believer of community and working with people to give back. If we want QC to exist tomorrow, it’s with the freshmen, wanting them to stay, and helping establish this community,” Velez said. “Whether it’s mentors coming to classes, or even saying hello to a familiar face, [freshmen] realize that they are part of something.”

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