Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- September 9, 2005

Program to Aid New Students

Students entering California State University, Bakersfield this fall will be part of a new program designed to enhance their first year experience. The Roadrunner First-Year Resources for Success and High-Achievement program or RUSH-A, will launch this fall and assist students "in transition": first-year college students, transfer students and re-entry students.

Students in these categories will be required to take newly redesigned courses to familiarize themselves with the campus, requirements, student life, staff and faculty. CSUB 101 will be required for all first-time freshman students, while CSUB 301 will be "highly recommended," at least for the 2005-06 school year, for new transfer and re-entry students. All General Studies 160 courses, better known as orientation classes, have been converted to CSUB 101. These are standard one day a week, 10-week courses, worth one unit of credit.

"This new program is very important," said CSUB President Horace Mitchell. "The new system that our faculty have developed will allow for the students to become more fully integrated into the life on campus." Mitchell said this would allow for students to "explore the campus in a way they wouldn't normally have."

Kaye Bragg, CSUB director of the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center, helped establish the program on campus. "We wanted the new orientation classes to be a show and tell for the instructor and be able to engage students and show them how CSUB can help them." Officials said they've talked with students and are trying to make the transition easier through this program.

The courses are designed so instructors can add their own personal experiences and ideas. "It will be more than just a tour of the campus," Bragg added. She also said both staff and faculty members will be the instructors. "We want to breakdown the staff/faculty distinction (and) the mystique of CSUB," Bragg emphasized. Instructors may involve different guest speakers and the use of WebCT, one of CSUB's e-learning services. A WebCT format has been created to cover basic CSUB information in a self-testing format, answer frequently asked questions and provide resources for students.

Bragg said the students will discuss their major in these classes and find out what it will take to get them to graduation day. They will set up plans for success and learn what the faculty expects from them.

"This program is set up so it forces them to think about all the graduation requirements and begin to set up a plan to complete them," said John Dirkse, CSUB associate dean for undergraduate studies. "We don't want to hear 'I don't know.'"

Bragg foresees this as an invaluable experience. "These classes will be student centered," she said. "They will allow students to learn the value of professional networking and building friendships. What you learn at the university you take with you in your career."

Kendyl Magnuson, CSUB associate director of admissions and records, agrees. "By using some creative ideas, this program will help us do a better job than what we were already doing," he said. "This will help us develop our campus culture and provide opportunities for students. We are the heart and soul of what Kern County has ahead of it."

There will also be elective courses offered in the winter and spring quarters that will connect with the initial orientation classes and continue the student's first year experience. These component courses will have CSUB 101 and 301 as prerequisites.

The winter elective, or "passions" (CSUB 103 or 303), courses, are not based solely on academic work. Staff and faculty members have designed courses based on some of their personal interests. For instance a student may take a class on discovering what their American dream may be, learn the history and culture of beer or hone their leadership skills. "Research shows one of the most important connections are those a student has with faculty," Magnuson said. "This is a win-win situation." In the spring students may take a follow up elective course (CSUB 105 or 305) to become "Roadrunner ambassadors." Students will implement a project with other students to pursue a "passion" that will benefit the university in meeting Mitchell's vision of excellence.

Beth Rienzi, CSUB associate dean for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said there are even more plans in the works for this program. She said her department is looking to build "learning communities." This is where students will be able to link courses on specific days with their classmates. "This will allow for students to become more connected to the campus and other students," Rienzi said. She added the courses might go up in credit value in the future.

Contacts:
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu
Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, jloveless@csub.edu


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