Freshman experience course eases transition

Ever walk into a new place and feel overwhelmed? Things will certainly look different without Safari-clad Dad, Hibiscus-print visor Mom and the tour group. But know that every freshman goes through the same process of adjustment as you.

To help you ease into your new life jam-packed with freedom, the Ultimate Freshman Experience (UMX) was created. And instead of a backwards-pacing tour guide, faculty members are there to answer your questions.

Morgan Fine, the coordinator of all UMX classes, added that it establishes a foundation that your college experiences will be built on.

According to Fine, the goals are to “foster community building and collegial networking, to provide information about campus resources and to achieve success at UM and beyond.”

Launched in 1992 as the Freshman Experience (FEX) in the College of Arts and Sciences, the voluntary course achieved “Ultimate” status after a renaming in 2003. The program has since branched out to include sections for general athletes, psychology and neurobiology, international students, nursing, education, sports and wellness, undecided arts and sciences, and pre-law/pre-MBA.

“Some professors bring in speakers during class while others take their students to various offices around campus,” Fine said.

Students are sent to a variety of locations like the Toppel Career Center, Academic Resource Center and Lowe Art Museum to do further research on the offerings that freshman orientation only begins to touch on.

“It was good initially to know all the programs and services available to you,” junior Travis Underwood said.

Underwood took the class in the School of Nursing as a pre-pharmacy major, but has since switched to sport administration. UMX taught him about how the university works, which included topics such as Freshman Forgiveness and how to talk to faculty members after class.

If students fail a course in the first two semesters, Freshman Forgiveness allows them to retake the class within a year, with the hopefully higher grade replacing the sour spot in their GPA. However, the first grade is still visible on the transcript.

“I think it helped,” junior Bri Blair said. “It wasn’t an all-out preparation, but it was a start.”

Blair took the athlete-specific course under the UMX umbrella. Athletes are taught about their responsibilities to the school and team, and also experience an etiquette course. She recommends the course to others.

“It’s a good way to start your GPA,” Blair said.

Other students agree about the GPA boost, but were not as impressed by the one-credit class.

“It should be an easy A,” Underwood said. “Overall, it was a waste of time.”

The course remains ever-popular regardless, and spots quickly fill up.