and its members have been committed to student success with a particular
concern for those students who have shown great promise but who have
encountered stumbling blocks along the way. The Re-Imagining the First Year of
College initiative is further testament to this commitment. It is a
groundbreaking collaboration that we believe will substantively and sustainably
alter the first-year experience for students at the 44 AASCU member
institutions who are participating.”
– AASCU President Muriel Howard
Re-Imagining the First Year (RFY) is a project aimed at ensuring success for all students, particularly those who have historically been underserved by higher education: low income, first generation, and students of color. With support from the
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Strada Education Network (formerly, USA Funds), AASCU has created a coalition of
44 member institutions that are working together for three calendar years (2016-2018) to develop comprehensive, institutional transformation that redesigns the first year of college and creates sustainable change for student success.
The goal of RFY is to dramatically improve the quality of learning and student experience in the first year, increase retention rates, and improve student success. The RFY project is a groundbreaking collaboration to substantively and sustainably alter the first-year experience for students at participating AASCU institutions.
The first year of college has emerged as the critical barrier to college success, the point at which colleges experience the greatest loss of students. The RFY project recognizes that no single intervention will solve student performance, and that solutions that fail to reflect the differing needs of a changing student body will not be successful. RFY seeks to inspire redesigned approaches that work effectively for all members of an increasingly diverse, multicultural, undergraduate student body, eliminating the achievement disparities that have plagued American higher education for generations. Ultimately, re-designing this critical first year will allow for broader reform of the undergraduate experience in the future.
The 44 institutions participating in RFY have formed a learning community that reviews and shares evidence-based practices, programs and implementation strategies. The RFY initiative entails a comprehensive, “top-down, bottom-up” approach that engages the whole campus in focusing on four key areas
to help first-year students succeed: institutional intentionality, curriculum redesign, changes in faculty and staff roles, and changes in student roles.
Participants receive extensive support through national meetings, expert webinars, individual consultation, and online resources and tools. The project is building a robust collection of integrated strategies, programs and approaches that participating campuses can adapt to improve
student success. The RFY team leaders from each of the 44 participating institutions met in Austin, Texas in February 2016 to formally launch the project. To read a transcript of George L. Mehaffy's remarks from this event, please click here.
For a list of participating institutions, click here.