The first year experience hall, North Hall, held its annual graduation ceremony for freshman students who have completed their first year of college on April 29.
Jennifer Edens is the residence coordinator at North Hall and said events such as the North Hall freshman graduation recognize the work it takes to successfully finish the first year of college.
“The purpose [of the graduation] to celebrate the completion of the first year of college for our residents here,” Edens said. “The first year is often the most challenging in many ways; you feel homesick, people have a hard time transitioning and adjusting [and] often acclimating. They need to learn how to manage their time, how to manage their finances, how to study for college, because studying for college is different than studying for high school, and they get a taste of adulting.”
Makayla Newman is a North Hall resident adviser who helped Edens plan the event. Newman said her first-year graduation was a great experience, and that events like North Hall graduation build a supportive community.
“It is a lot easier to stay in the university once you’ve been here longer than a year. Looking back at my freshman year, it wasn’t quite as difficult as this year, but I felt more inclined to go home because I was homesick, and less stable here,” Newman said. “Just celebrating that they’ve made it through not the most challenging year, but the most challenging as far as being homesick and lonely and not having a lot of friends, because after the first year they’re more stable and they can handle things that make them want to go home.”
Edens said that students are more likely to stay in college if they finish their first year, and as the first year coordinator, she said her goal is to get higher retention of first year students from semester to semester.
“The longer students stay, the more likely they are to graduate,” Edens said. “[Retention is] on par — it’s been normal. We would like to see it fewer. It would be ideal to see 100 percent of students who come in the fall remain throughout the whole year, but that’s not where we are right now.”
Newman said that there are a lot of factors that influence a student leaving the university in their first year, but that it is important to celebrate those who do complete the year.
“Unfortunately there’s a lot of factors that play into whether or not we retain students like some students get like a semester or two in and realize they can’t afford it or they’re not completely dedicated to their studies, or something terrible happens and they have to go home,” Newman said. “There’s just a lot of different things that can happen, but it’s just hard to retain them. We’re trying to do programs and stuff so they won’t be homesick and go home because that’s something that is a little more fixable than financial and academic or family issues.”
One of the speakers at the North Hall graduation ceremony was Residence Hall Association president, Nathan Burns.
“It’s a good thing to recognize that getting past the biggest hump is an important accomplishment and it only gets easier from here, and it’s a nice little get together to thank everybody here,” Burns said. “It does feel, especially for those living on campus, they get more of college experience than if they lived at home or commuted in.”
At the graduation, first-year students were handed certificates with their name congratulating them on completing their first year of college.