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“Take Hold of Opportunities.”

Dean of Arts and Sciences Virginia Sapiro on the new first-year student task force

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For many first-year students, this month marks the first time they’ve lived away from home, set their own schedules, and made their own choices about how to spend each day. While the new freedoms are often welcome, these decisions present unique personal and academic challenges, and the results affect both the students’ social lives and their grades.

In an effort to address the issues facing first-year students, Arts and Sciences Dean Virginia Sapiro, along with a team of faculty, staff, and students from the College of Arts and Sciences, has developed a task force that will investigate their needs and develop a plan to meet them. “When we admit students here,” says Sapiro, “we are making an implicit promise that we’ll do everything we can to help them be successful.”

Last week, the task force met with experts in the area of the first-year experience, including Wren Singer, director of the Center for the First-Year Experience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Pam Person, director for the Center for First Year Experience and Learning Communities at the University of Cincinnati, and Thomas Dingman, Harvard University’s dean of freshmen, to evaluate how other institutions have created programs for first-year students.

During the year, the task force will develop a report that addresses issues such as the first-year students’ academic experience, academic support, student development, and co-curricular programs and student life. “We need to think in a holistic way about our new students,” says Sapiro, “to figure out how to give them the kind of support they need, and how to help them.”

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

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