"We are very excited about initiating this new program to help freshmen get acclimated to their new life at university,"
said Gloria Khoury, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Carnegie Mellon Qatar.
"Freshmen will encounter many first time experiences - the first time living away from the familiarities of home, the first time in a co-educational environment, perhaps the first in the family to attend college. This can be overwhelming for some. This program will help the incoming student class to build relationships with their peers as well as their professors which will ultimately serve to enhance their academic performance and contribute to successful adaptation to the rigors of university."
One of the recent initiatives in the series organized by the New First-Year Programs Office was the "First Year Experiential Program", during which 71 freshmen students and 24 faculty and staff participated. The program was a two-day event focused on introducing the students to Carnegie Mellon and the student community, and establishing relationships with their professors and peer group through teambuilding and outdoor activities.
"Not only was the program amazing, but it also strengthened the relationship between me and my classmates and professors. It was really helpful to get to know the others in case we were put into a group to work on a project, we would not need to take the time to introduce each other because we are now already friends," said Hussain Hejji, Business Administration, Carnegie Mellon Qatar.
Maryam Yousuf, a freshman studying Information Systems, said "Now in the classroom, you can see that all students and even most of the professors are more approachable after the time we shared together."
Research studies have shown that such informal sessions outside the classroom enhance the natural classroom learning, especially for first year students. Students build trust with their professors allowing them to feel more comfortable interacting and participating in the classroom.
"I feel that this was a strong success. I believe the relationships between faculty, staff and students were strengthened through the experience. Personally I've observed that the positive classroom atmosphere following this program has consistently generated more meaningful and engaged class discussion. Students have also expressed to me that they now have more confidence about approaching faculty for academic help in their courses," said Kira A. Dreher, professor of English at Carnegie Mellon Qatar.
Another initiative launched by the New First Years Programs Office is the "Involvement Passport", a program which focuses on the importance of learning outside the classroom and encourages freshman students to get involved in student and academic organizations, community service projects, health and wellness activities as well as leadership and professional development opportunities.
The freshman students are given a 'passport booklet' listing these categories that have been identified as important compliments to classroom learning, which are then stamped upon completion of the category.
Carnegie Mellon Qatar's curriculum emphasizes participation both inside and outside the classroom, encouraging student involvement in extra-curricular activities as a compliment to classroom learning which will enhance their future.
Through participation in research projects, student organizations, sports activities and community service projects and sports activities, students learn cooperation, teamwork, responsibility, problem solving and communication.
The New First-Year Programs Office helps facilitate this involvement for the freshmen class.