Book by Ryan Padgett and Jennifer Keup
Review by: Eileen Doyle Crane, J.D.
Academic Counseling Center
Utah Valley University
Orem, UT

The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition has once again produced an excellent tool for administrators and interested advisors with a special interest in helping students adapt to the new challenges that college and university life provide.  While this is not a general-interest book for most academic advisors, this reference manual is critical for the administrator or advisor who has become responsible to create, manage, assess, or improve First-Year Seminars (FYS).  Due to the on-going educational economic situations of limited and decreasing funding, directors of FYS programs need to know what has been tried, how programs are designed, and what is working successfully at institutions similar to theirs while engaged in FYS programs or prior to embarking on the development of new programs.

This reference manual describes the various types of schools (public, private, 2-year, 4-year), types of seminars (orientation, academic, hybrid, study skills classes), pedagogical variables in teaching modalities (classroom, online, hybrid), required versus elective courses, participation by percentage of first-year class and size of institution, and implications of all this data to develop best practices in FYS.  It streamlines an administrator’s investigation into how to create, compare, and expand a FYS program at their institution.  Ninety-two pages of charts and data illustrate and explain the various aspects of FYS programs that exist among the 890 institutions that responded to the annual survey.

The narrative is concise, dense, and statistically based; it is not light reading for the general advisor, but very useful, if not critical, to the FYS program administrator.  For existing FYS administrators, this book can be used to compare outcomes from schools similar to theirs in order to assess current effectiveness and plan for future development.

This book could potentially become interesting to general advisors if they are actively participating in university committees tasked with creating or management of existing FYS programs.  It is more likely a resource for directors and administrators who are investigating the national scene of FYS.  Specialty advisors, assigned to FYS advising, may find the data interesting by comparing the size and variables on their campuses to other similar institutions to assess and alter their programs to meet their institutional goals.

What this book lacks in color is more than made up by the enthusiasm of those professionals who work in FYS programs around the US and the world.  Conferences sponsored by The National Resource Center of First Year Experience and Students in Transition congregate professors and administrators of FYS programs.  The level of deep, personal engagement and commitment is highly evident.  This reference manual is an excellent tool to support that crucial enthusiasm.

2009 National Survey of First Year Seminars: Ongoing Efforts to Support Students in Transition (2011). Research Reports on College Transitions, No. 2, Ryan Padgett and Jennifer Keup. Columbia, South Carolina. National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience. 176 pp. $35.00. ISBN # 978-1-889271-80-4

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