• Re-Imagining the First Year of College

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    “Historically, AASCU 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

    About RFY

    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.

    Institutional Participation

    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.

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    FREE RFY Webinars

    May 5, 2017
    The Art & Science of First-Year Student Success: How the Right Data Can Inform Both

    In this era of “big data” it’s important to know what really matters in developing and implementing first-year success programs. What do you need to know about your first-year students as they enter your institutions? What role does non-cognitive, motivational data play in student success? What metrics do you need to monitor as students move through their first year of enrollment? What data do you need to benchmark your results against national comparisons? And what are some examples of institutions that are making the most of their own data to inform practices that are leading to positive outcomes in both improving the success of first-year students and completion rates? In this webinar, participants will learn: What information is critical for the institution to gather and monitor? What are national comparison benchmarks for persistence, progression, retention and graduation/completion? How are institutions making the most of the data they have available? What are some examples of exemplary best-practices in first-year success programs?