FYSEP to ease College transition

by Kate Farley | 4/28/09 2:05am

The Inter-Community Council will launch an initiative to assist students in their transition from high school to the College in fall 2009. This "First-Year Scholarship Enrichment Program" will target students who did not attend high schools with college-preparatory curriculums. ICC members held an information session about the program on Monday night for current students interested in becoming mentors for incoming members of the Class of 2013.

The program, which will include up to 40 incoming students in its first year, will feature workshops and discussion sections focusing on academic skills, including note-taking and participation in class discussion, ICC intern Micaela Klein '10 said during the information session.

Students who did not attend college preparatory high schools may not have had the opportunity to take high-level classes, including Advanced Placement courses, Klein said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

"In [non-college preparatory high schools,] students are engaged on a different level," Andrea Obando '10, an ICC student intern, added during the interview.

Freshmen participants will be assigned mentors who will guide them through the workshops and work with them throughout the year.

"We're hoping to create a resource network," Klein said.

As mentors and mentees may have different Dartmouth plans, mentors who are on campus will be encouraged to make themselves available to all freshmen participants, Klein said.

All interested students are eligible to become mentors, but current students from non-college preparatory backgrounds are encouraged to apply to demonstrate how to succeed at Dartmouth despite "roadblocks," David Knight '10, an ICC member, said during the information session.

While the ICC members said they eventually hope to open the application process to the entire entering class, initial resource constraints will require them to mail applications to a pre-selected group of students.

The admissions office and the First-Year Office have targeted a section of the freshman class, Klein said in the interview, based on their home geographic area and high school profile. Students' SAT scores and grade point average were not considered, Klein added.

Klein stressed during the information session that FYSEP is "not a remedial program" and that it does not target academically low-performing students.

"These are not low-achieving students who we think are going to struggle once they're here," Klein said. "These are students who were maybe valedictorians of their high school, but their high school was in the south Bronx and was not Phillips Exeter [Academy]."

Jeremy Guardiola '12, who plans to apply to be a mentor, said he was interested in the program because he believes his high school did not adequately prepare him for Dartmouth. He said he wanted to share his academic strategies with freshmen in similar positions.

"I'd be honored to be able to help incoming freshmen set themselves on a successful path by sharing with them the support that they can do well despite their backgrounds and what types of habits they need to develop in order to become outstanding Dartmouth students," Guardiola said in an e-mail to The Dartmouth.

The program has been on the ICC's agenda for some time, Klein said in the interview. The organization began concrete work on the project in summer 2008, she said.

"There's a really national interest in why there is an academic achievement gap between students of different backgrounds," she said. "It's something [institutions of higher learning] are talking about."

Other College pre-orientation programs, including those for Native American students and international students, focus mostly on the social aspects the adjustment process, Klein said.

"We wanted to offer something that was more than emotional support for students," she said.

FYSEP is co-sponsored by the Dean of the College Office and the Office of Institutional Diversity.

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