Experiences of college students in a first-year seminar course
De La Garza, Belindad
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The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of college students enrolled in a first-year seminar course. This study addressed three areas: (a) what were college students’ experiences in the first-year seminar course? (b) how will college students apply experiences gained from the first-year seminar course? and (c) what additional resources do first year students need to be successful in college? A phenomenological qualitative design was utilized in this study that included seven volunteer participants enrolled in a first-year seminar class. Data was collected in the form of individual interviews, a focus group, and written statements. Eight themes and two subthemes emerged from the use of an inductive analysis: course satisfaction, value of the instructor, course components, friends/social networks, knowledge of resources, study review/study habits and techniques, structure of the triad, and transition from high school to college. Conclusions emphasized the importance for colleges to create a learning environment that can assist first-year students transitioning from high school. First-year seminar programs were viewed as capable of preparing students so they can address educational and personal live challenges. In addition, beyond enhancing academic skills, first-year seminars were seen as providing opportunities for students to build relationships that create a sense of belonging, leading to the development of social and educational networks.