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This semester, the Academic Connections for Excellence (ACE) seminar for first year students got a makeover.
The major goal of ACE is to enhance first year student’s transition into college academics by introducing them to the values of a liberal arts education and providing them with strategies for academic success.
ACE also aims to connect students with a faculty or staff member, as while as an upperclassman in the form of an ACE guide, in order to help enhance their sense of community and belonging.
— Sam Bissell (@SamBissell) October 7, 2016
Over the course of six weeks, students attended one session a week that focused on various topics to help aid their college transition, explained Director of New Student Transition and Engagement Alexa Simeone Trainor. Some of these topics included instructions about how to use ECLearn, having a college mindset, tips for student success, diversity and cultural competency as well how to prepare for midterms and college resources for academic and personal achievement.
Last year, ACE was broken up into three small groups sessions and three large group sessions held in the library lecture hall. This year all six weeks of ACE were held in a classroom session. Simeone Trainor believes that this change helped enhance the experience of the program for first year students.
“We got a lot of feedback from students and ACE instructors that said it was difficult for students to connect with their small groups because of the divided sessions,” explained Simeone Trainor. “I think this change helped ensure that students had more time to engaged with one another as well as with their instructor and ACE guides.”
ACE guides were another change to the program. They acted as an aid to both the instructor and the students and guides helped facilitate lessons. Having an upperclassman in the group also provided students with another layer of support and mentorship.
“In my group we talked a lot about time management and I think the students benefitted from hearing my personal experiences and how I dealt with it,” said Savannah Cardoso ’18, an ACE guide.
ACE guides served as a mentor for students both in and out of the classroom.
“I think ACE provided students with another person they can reach out to if they need support,” Katie Gilmore ‘19 explained. “I really enjoyed getting the chance to connect with new people.”
Student reactions about the program have been positive as well. Eli Benevides ’20 valued ACE because of the on campus connections they were introduced to.
“I had mentioned to my ACE guide that I was looking to get join OUTspoken,” Benevides explain. “She remembered that and forwarded me emails about when the club was meeting, which really helped me get involved.”
Other students appreciated the lessons about campus resources.
“I really liked how we focused on what resources were available to us,” said Aliza Brewer ’20, “It was nice to have a student who could answer our questions as well.”
Overall, Simeone Trainor believes that the changes implemented made the program more beneficial for first year students.
“Having taught a session of ACE myself, I think the new format really helped students get the most out of ACE,” said Simeone Trainor.
Katie Drewry ’19 is a Staff Writer for The Hub. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.