Students in class learn how to learn in college

By Sara Adams

For freshman meteorology major Tom Walsh, taking UNIV 101 is a way to help make the transition to NIU easier.

The class, which is part of the First-Year Connections program, was designed to help students with their college transition, said Denise Rode, coordinator of the program. The course also covers relationships, diversity and handling stress brought on by jobs and studying.

“I think the UNIV 101 class will help me settle in a little easier by letting me know what’s out there,” said Chris Peterlin, a freshman computer science major. “It will also take away the fear of being at college because I realize that I am around people that are just like me.”

Studies conducted by the program show that students who take the class are more likely to remain at NIU than those who do not.

“It’s a good move for any student to take the class,” Rode said. “Students who take the class tend to do better academically and get involved more quickly.”

Students who take the class also have a twenty-minute one-on-one conference with their professor. There, they can talk about how other classes are going, roommate issues or anything else on the student’s mind, Rode said.

When the class began in the mid- to late-1980s, it was offered in the Health and Human Sciences department. In 1995, the class was offered to anyone enrolled in NIU, and has since grown to offer over 30 sections of the class.

“The orientation office does a great job finding professors that work well with students,” said Don Bramlett, director of Retention Programs. “If they’re not an athlete, honor student or CHANCE student, they can get lost because they don’t know whom to talk to, and with the U-N-I-V class, the instructor is right there,” Bramlett said.

Rachel Helfrich, a student intern for the First-Year Connections program, said she’s glad she took the class her freshman year.

“I got to know a lot about how to do things around here. How to get in contact with professors, and I made friends with [the older peer instructors] in the class,” she said. ”I think any student could potentially benefit from the class as long as they come in with the right attitude,” she said.