Integrated Programs Help First-Years Find Home
- By Amanda Kenyon Waite
New friends, new school, new teachers, new home. Everything will change in a few months for graduating high school seniors heading off to college. An exciting time, for sure, but navigating a new landscape can be intimidating.
For dozens of first-year students in UVM’s College of Arts and Sciences, four programs help ease this transition to college life, providing a foundation for the academic work to come, but also giving students a leg up on finding their community. Part of Arts and Sciences’ Teacher-Adviser Program (TAP), these initiatives — the Integrated Humanities, Integrated Social Sciences, Integrated Fine Arts and Integrated Study of Earth and the Environment programs — are a frame for the coursework in the first year. The optional residential component means that the faces students see in classes are some of the same ones they’ll see in their suite, and the friendships made often endure beyond year one.
These integrated, full-year programs are part of the larger TAP offering in the college, which introduces students to their faculty adviser via a seminar course in the fall semester. The writing-intensive TAP classes help students develop foundational academic skills and get to to know their professor-adviser in classes that explore more than 40 fascinating topics. Consider a sampling of fall 2014’s options: Anthropology 095: “Conquistadors and Cannibals,” Economics 020: “Economics of Space,” English 005: “Detecting the Detectives,” History 095: “Revolutionary Ideologies in the Twentieth Century,” Psychology 095: “What Is Sexual Satisfaction? A Scientific Quest,” Religion 095: “Islam,” and Philosophy 010: “Skepticism — Moral, Theological and Global.”
In the year-long integrated programs, students choose four-to-six classes across the two semesters. An extension of what TAP offers by way of connecting students and faculty-advisers, the goal of the integrated programs is to “provide added depth, integrate the perspectives of faculty members from different disciplines, and more fully develop creative and expressive abilities.”
In their eyes
As May approaches, another crop of students wrap up their first-year experience in the IHP, ISSP, IFA and ISEE programs. Scroll through these snapshots and reflections to see the year through their eyes:
“The highlight of the program was the community it created. We all live together, take classes together, and study together so IHP becomes a real family. Whenever we have to do presentations or activities like recreating the trial of Socrates, it becomes that much more fun because you're working with people you know very well and you enjoy being with. Even if it takes awhile to find your place on campus, you're never alone.”
—Rebecca Friedlander, an anthropology and religion major from Chicago.
“Because we all lived together we spent many hours in the study room working alongside of each other on projects and papers, and there was always someone around to answer or ask questions. This made it easier to adjust to the new workload and schedules of college, which are very different from high school. Knowing our professors personally also really stimulated the learning environment and made classes a lot more fun.”
—Emily Peters, environmental studies major from Hopewell, N.J.
“Patrick Hutton's 'History of the Western Traditions' class was dynamic, thorough, and entirely absorbing. It gave me an incredible background in ancient Western history which, now that I have it, feels like an integral aspect of exploring many other facets of my education at UVM.”
—Ruby LaBrusciano-Carris, a political science major from Marshfield, Vt.
“ISSP has provided me with a solid base for all my future college endeavors, giving me background information on economics, sociology, political science and anthropology. I particularly enjoyed 'Culture and Environment' with (Professor Luis) Vivanco.”
—Grace Gaskill, anthropology major from Rochester, N.Y.
“IFA provided a home base. We quickly became best friends so it took a lot of the stress of making friends away. IFA is a home away from home.”
— Madison Sullivan, parks, recreation, and tourism major from Little Rock, Ark.
“The highlight of my ISEE experience was going out on geology excursions for various labs in the 'Geology of Lake Champlain Basin' class. We would have one field trip a week for several hours. As an out-of-stater, these trips were wonderful introductions to Vermont’s beautiful landscape. As a first-semester freshman without a car, getting off campus was rare. I loved experiencing the foliage and the nature of other locations I would never have gone to otherwise. These trips helped me to establish my sense of place in unfamiliar territory.”
—Erica Gilgore, environmental studies major from Doylestown, Penn.
“The highlight of my year in the program was the barbecue at (Professor) Ross Thomson's house. It was a really fun way to get to know alumni and professors in an informal setting and ask for input on various academic, extra curricular and social issues.”
—Tory McBrien, English and sociology major from Glastonbury, Conn.
“The classes are almost completely discussion-based which allows everyone to say what is on their mind and create a dialogue with the professor. The class discussions go beyond the classroom and we continually sit around in our rooms and just discuss our thoughts and ideas.”
— Ryan McHale, history major from Hamilton, N.J.
“I was able to make a strong group of friends, and it was the first time in a long time that I felt that I could actually be myself. I became a more socially conscious person. Coming into the program and to UVM, I was afraid of being discriminated against, but the IHP was a great intro to UVM because I met people that were open minded, accepting, and helped me grow as a person.”
—Michael Minyetty, psychology major from Bronx, N.Y.
“The ISSP professors get to know you personally and are willing to talk to you about anything — even non-academic things…. (Professor) Pablo (Bose) always makes me laugh in class, and during office hours, he nerded out with me about Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.”
—Becca Brady, anthropology and gender, sexuality, and women's studies major from New Hope, Penn.
“The highlight of my year was definitely getting to project our final film projects on the wall of Bailey/Howe. It was so cool to see them huge on the wall, and in public. It was freezing cold, but we all got pizza and watched our work together, so it was worth it!”
—Emma Hannaway, a theatre and film/television studies major, from Baltimore, Md.