Reimagining the first-year student experience at Sam Houston State University


How might we reimagine a student’s first year as a three-year commitment to their credentialing success?


Ten-pronged effort: 

  • Redesigned Welcome Week and student orientation
  • Developed a “before you start” to-do list for first-year students
  • Held a spring orientation for first-time freshmen (FTF)
  • Encouraged faculty to create an engaging plan for students’ first day
  • Eliminated late registration to increase student participation in first-day activities
  • Moved from a hybrid mix of faculty and professional advisors to a total professional advisor model
  • Formed an interdivisional leadership team to review student experience quarterly
  • Revised policies and procedures to streamline student experience
  • Strengthened developmental math curriculum; recalibrated UNIV 1301 Student Success Course to increase student interest and enrollment
  • Implemented Teaching Innovation Grants to incentivize faculty


Shared goals for student success:

  • Annual improvement in semester-to-semester and one-year retention rates
  • Long-term improvement in both 4- and 6-year graduation rates
  • Annual increases in total number of students engaging in high-impact practices
  • Increase in student participation in Welcome Week
  • Annual increase in total number of students using the co-curricular transcript
  • Increased retention for FTF entering spring semester
  • Increased student participation in learning communities

Ready to take action?

Brainstorming prompts for you and your team to consider

Learn more about student support from our research