Intensive Freshman Seminar helps freshmen transition



Freshman Josephine McCormick has been living in Bloomington since she was young. Even though McCormick isn't far from home, she said she was still nervous about attending college. She said the Intensive Freshman Seminar program helped her not so much to get used to campus but to get a good feel for balancing classes and her social life.

“It was really the entire atmosphere of the program that helped me to transition,” McCormick said. “Knowing campus and having some connections and balancing work life. In that aspect it was really beneficial.” 

IFS is a two-week program designed to introduce incoming freshmen to a college lifestyle. Participants move into the dorms two weeks early and take a three-credit class to acclimate to college-level courses. 

“It’s a great way for students to ease into freshman year, to ease into college,” said Early Experience Assistant Director Peter Roeth. 

McCormick took a course about women's place in society in the early 1900s.

“Even if you're from Bloomington, it’s good to have transition," McCormick said. "It got me used to balancing a schedule a bit more.” 

As assistant director, Roeth has a hand in all aspects of the IFS experience, from training student staff members to helping with housing issues and meal plans. He said he applied for the job knowing that IU is a university that does well not only within the state but within our country and society. 

Roeth said he hopes to provide faculty-to-student interactions that don't always happen in a regular class environment. 

“We want to let students know right away that faculty are approachable, that they want to interact with students and that they enjoy helping students learn and research and develop,” Roeth said.

McCormick’s instructor was Lisa-Marie Napoli, assistant director of the Political and Civic Engagement program.  

“I thought she was incredible,” McCormick said. “I loved that she really connected with us. She was very down to earth. She shared about her life. It wasn’t a completely one-sided teacher-student relationship. I loved how enthusiastic she was about everything and how much she cared about us.”

McCormick said she felt as if the professors seemed to not only care that you were taking their class and doing well in the course, but that you were transitioning into college effectively.

IFS participants Meg Chapman and Ryan MacDonald took a linguistics course taught by Chien-Jer Lin, an associate professor. 

MacDonald and Chapman said they admired Lin's teaching style and that he was always available. 

“Dr. Lin was the perfect professor to start off with," Chapman said. 

Chapman and MacDonald said they were worried about making friends and fitting in upon arriving at IU. 

“Professor Lin really wanted us to bond with our classmates outside of the course,” Chapman said. “I’m much more relaxed knowing I’m going into college with a solid group of friends.” 

MacDonald and McCormick said they were both reassured by their IFS course. McCormick said that her course was easier than she had anticipated it would be. 

“I was expecting to have, like, three-page papers due every night at, like, 10 p.m.,” MacDonald said. “But, it didn’t turn out to be anything like that.” 

As for the future of the IFS, Roeth said the program wants to support IU’s bicentennial goals. Roeth’s hope for the IFS is to incorporate more international students into the program in order to help them adjust to the United States' educational system. 

Over the next few years, he aims to continue reaching out to international students and to help the program continue to grow for the benefit of incoming freshmen.

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