New first-year experience helps students transition

Welcome Week and Gannon 101 undergo changes

Molly Begeman, Features Editor

Gannon first-year students are experiencing a brand-new structure of Welcome Week, transition and Gannon 101.  This shift is designed to help the incoming students feel more welcome, transition easier and get to know Gannon and its values faster.

The Gannon 101 course – what was previously known as Freshman Seminar — is set up to be a more cohesive program across all majors and faculty members. This also includes transition guides co-facilitating the class.  Jamie McCaslin, one of the four heads of the new program said that the course includes, “experiential and collaborative learning that supports a new student through their transition to Gannon University in their first semester.”

The course is built on a “plan, do, reflect” model in which students will be introduced to four topics — well-being, social responsibility, Gannon READS and diversity, equity and inclusion.  The idea behind this new structure was to have a common curriculum provided to each incoming student and for the same information to be presented in a similar way so that after the first semester students are well-equipped with knowledge about the university.

Gannon 101 is also different from years prior because this is not only a larger load for the faculty, but also the transition guides. Instead of having one busy week of activities and information, Welcome Week is shorter, and the transition guides have an entire semester to present the information.

Maddie Kless, a junior nursing major and transition guide, said that it takes more leadership to co-facilitate a class than Welcome Week alone.

“It’s definitely more responsibility and a different kind of leadership role to take on, but it’s a lot of fun,” Kless said. “It’s been an adjustment learning to teach a course and then teaching it with a co-instructor too. However, I’m grateful to have someone I can directly rely on and go through this journey with.”

This new structure is helping first-year students transition well. First-year business administration major, Noah Oros found that adjusting to college has been a bit of a struggle, but with time management it will become more manageable.

Oros’ thoughts on Gannon 101 and Welcome Week shifted as he went through the sessions and the weeks.

“At first, the schedule for welcome week honestly did seem corny,” Oros said. “However, I met many more people than I expected to throughout the week and I have had plenty of good practice meeting new people and making new connections.”

At first the Gannon 101 classes and Welcome Week did not appeal to Oros, but slowly it began making more sense to have every student on the same page when discussing real topics such as sexual assault and how to prevent it and respond to it.

Paige Reitz, a first-year communication sciences and disorders major said that the new model is helpful in acclimating to college.

“Gannon put on so many events that made it easy to meet new people and get everyone involved,” Reitz said. “Change is often really scary, but Welcome Week definitely made the adjustment a lot smoother.”


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