The First-Year Experience in Two-Year Public Postsecondary Programs

A student’s first year at a new college is a critically important period—academically, socio-emotionally, personally, and professionally. Whether transitioning from high school, other postsecondary education, or the labor market, students often need to adjust to a myriad of changes beyond just the new academic environment. They may be relocating, starting a new job in order to pay for tuition and living expenses, or facing new demands as they balance family responsibilities, work, and school deadlines. Students learn to navigate new institutional processes and support structures at their campus and form a new social support network. They also may need to learn about complex institutional policies regarding transferring credits between institutions. Simply put, students’ experiences during their first year at a higher education institution are challenging and play an important role in setting them up for future success.