First Year Experience (FYEX)
Not Embraced by All Students
Carla Gibson, DC student
Like most colleges and universities, Life has a program in place to assist first year students in sharpening their skills in the areas of goal setting, time management and student finances. The program is required for graduation in both the undergraduate and DC programs and is a non-credit course. So essentially, it is provided to students for free. The program has been in place for several years and was implemented based on the recommendations of a student retention committee. The committee found that students who were not successful in the programs at Life University were generally lacking in the areas FYEX addresses.
In the undergraduate program, FYEX is implemented as a one hour per week class and seems to get better reviews than its DC counterpart, which is implemented in an online discussion format. Marc Schneider, D.C., Vice President of Student Services, recalls that the decision was made to implement the program in an online format to avoid adding more “seat time” to an already demanding program. The program has been implemented rather smoothly in the DC program for the past few years, but recently, it has come under much criticism from DC students and many have sought to be excused from the requirement. Students can opt out of the requirement with the permission of the Dean of their college. Each Dean sets the parameters for the exception, which usually involves the student showing they have received a college degree in the last five years or have demonstrated proficiency in the areas covered through work experience.
Dr. Schneider notes the program has had some staff changes that have prevented it from being reviewed for several quarters. However, the program is now under review, as is most of the DC curriculum, and changes and suggestions will go through the usual process to be considered. He also notes that the federal government is planning to require financial counseling for anyone accepting financial aid. The FYEX program includes areas that would be required. So Life University is ahead of the mandate and would not require an entirely new program to be developed. Dr. Schneider encourages all students with an opinion about the program to use the evaluation process and give constructive and specific feedback on the program.
DC students generally complain that the program is a waste of time and that students who are successful enough to get into the DC program probably already have the skills covered in FYEX. The age and experience of students in the DC program varies widely and it is not surprising that a program like FYEX is a challenge to make meaningful for everyone. A DC student might be a twenty-something with limited college experience or an older student with a life experience ranging from raising children and managing a household to managing a multi-national corporation to having completed other professional programs, such as law school or med school. For students with this life experience, FYEX feels like a waste of time and a distraction from their studies. Steve Sisk, a sixth quarter DC student commented, “The main reason it was ineffective (for me) is that it attempted to mandate/standardize initiatives for personal growth that can only come from an individual’s own drive and desire. It’s annoying to have an overly simplistic program foisted upon us, particularly when we’re already bombarded with a huge volume of curriculum material.” This comment seemed to echo the sentiment of many DC students concerning the FYEX requirement. Recently, a student-initiated petition was circulated requesting the program be discontinued because it is not being implemented according to the stated purpose in the syllabus.
Should the program continue? And if so, what could make it more acceptable to students and provide a better value? Many students commented that they found the Rights and Responsibilities seminar useful and valuable to their education. Perhaps designing FYEX into a seminar format that would expose students to dynamic speakers and successful chiropractors talking about the basics would give more meaning to the subjects of time management, study habits and financial responsibility. Relating how these habits will translate into practice success may have more of an impact on DC students and turn the program into something viewed as a valuable part of the education. Other formats, such as using Open Space, World Café or other Transformative Large Group Conversation methods might give students an opportunity to focus their time on the issues where they need help, versus being put through the paces in areas they may have already mastered. The online format is expedient, but an in-person program where a true “master mind” could be developed, and where students could develop relationships with fellow students, faculty and field doctors and be held accountable for their goals and commitments might be more beneficial in the long run.