A Critique of Eastern's FYI Programs

Aicha Ly | Opinion Editor

Anyone who has spent their first year at our institution, Eastern CT State University, has most likely completed an FYI course. For those who transferred into the university or those who are unfamiliar with FYI courses, FYI courses are “First Year Introduction” courses. They are set up as split modules, one part of the class dedicated to a liberal arts topic and another part led by more senior students who have taken the position of peer mentors in which they are given the responsibility to aid in the social and academic transition to college of first year students. The course I took in my first semester (Fall 2020) was Holistic Crisis Management, which is a business oriented class. However, there are more light hearted FYI courses such as CT’s Jurassic Park which is being offered this semester.

There is good intent behind the design and requirement of FYI courses. However, in my opinion, the reality of these classes reveals some flaws that hinder first year students at Eastern from maximizing the benefit that could be gained from such a course design. For one, I believe there should be a heavier incorporation of life skills into these classes. I am very active on campus, but I understand that some students are not. Some students do not carry a great interest in student activities and therefore do not care to spend a significant amount of a class session learning about clubs on campus when there is a web page dedicated to that with descriptions for anyone interested. However, all students in the United States do benefit and probably need to know about different types of loans that exist since that is part of an American college student’s financial reality for the most part. Eastern has a webpage full of scholarships that many students I have talked to, ranging from Freshmen to Seniors, did not know even existed. I do not recall that being advertised in my FYI class. Credit and credit scores should be discussed more, explaining what APR is and how there are different types of credit; loans count, it is not just cards! If there is indecision about which important topics to explore, perhaps a form should be required for students to complete as their first homework assignment or before starting the class listing at least one topic they would like addressed. The most popular topics should be embedded into the curriculum. Additionally, taking a break from sitting in desks or staring at a screen through a trip to different places on campus such as Shawn’s cupboard and Wood Support center to learn where different beneficial places are on campus would be a cool addition to FYI courses. It allows for a refreshing switch in routine, incorporating light exercise by allowing students to talk some walks while getting to know the university better.

I do, however, appreciate the collaboration I saw with different departments of the university, namely collaborations with the CICD–which is the Center of Internships and Career Development. There were workshops and events that we were required to attend as FYI students, and they happened to be quite informative. Furthermore, I think having a peer mentor in the class is a good aspect of these courses because these instructors–typically being close in age to the FYI students and going to Eastern, can relate more and give more relevant advice due to similarities in experiences. Overall, FYI classes are definitely not a detriment to students. However, implementation of my recommendations are some ways that give students more autonomy and can therefore greatly improve FYI classes through higher student interest which can translate to better grades due to increased interaction which benefits all parties involved.