The University College offers a number of programs for new students and their families throughout the year. For more information on these programs, visit the UC Web site or call (804) 828-3700.
The University College offers an orientation program for incoming first-year and transfer students. The New Student Orientation program for first-time freshmen introduces students and their parents to the university, its expectations of them, campus resources, academic programs and courses offered. NSO provides opportunities for new students to interact with faculty, upper-level students and other new students. NSO participants can also meet with faculty members for information about their intended majors.
An important aspect of NSO is academic advising and registration. During advising, students meet with academic advisers to discuss their educational plans and course placement, and to choose classes for the first semester. Students also learn how to use the online registration system to register for classes.
NSO sessions are conducted throughout the summer preceding the fall semester and during the week before classes begin for the spring semester. The summer orientation program for new freshmen also includes a supplemental program for parents and other family members. The orientation evening program focusing on student life provides an opportunity to stay overnight in a VCU residence hall.
Transfer students new to VCU also attend an orientation program, which includes an introduction to the university and its resources, an overview of majors, academic advising and registration. During the academic advising portion, students review how credits completed at another institution apply toward general education, major and elective requirements at VCU. Academic advisers also assist transfer students with selecting courses they will take during their first semester and help students to learn the online registration system used to register for classes.
VCU Works provides meaningful on-campus employment opportunities that contribute to students’ integration into the university, academic success and personal development. VCU Works is designed to enhance the probability that students will achieve their educational and personal goals at VCU.
VCU Works is based on the premise that on-campus employment with a mentor who also serves as a supervisor contributes to the academic and social growth of its participants. In addition, VCU Works directly addresses the financial obstacles for students with financial need.
Students must apply to be eligible to participate in the VCU Works program. Participants will receive assistance to find relevant on-campus jobs where they will work up to 20 hours per week. Participants will be expected to attend pre-employment training and ongoing personal development workshops. In addition, they will receive mentoring from their supervisor. Information about the VCU Works program is available from the coordinator located in the UC.
Summer Reading Program
VCU’s Summer Reading Program introduces incoming students to the academic and intellectual culture of the university through a common academic experience. The program and the book, selected by VCU faculty and students during the preceding school year, will be introduced to students while they are on campus for the NSO program. Each student will receive a copy of the book and will be asked to read it and be prepared to discuss its primary themes when they return to campus in August.
During welcome week and throughout the academic year, students will come together to exchange ideas on the book through small group discussions led by a faculty member, university administrator or upper-level student. The discussions not only introduce students to academic dialogue, but they also offer new students the opportunity to establish connections with faculty, staff and their fellow students.
The summer reading program is an important part of students’ transition to university life and provides a shared experience as students begin their educational journey at VCU.
Programs for parents and families of first-year VCU students
Parents and family members play an important role in their college students’ education. VCU believes that college is a collaborative experience among students, their families, and the faculty and staff of the university. The UC associate dean serves as the liaison between the university and parents. Parents may contact the associate dean to address concerns, ask questions and receive assistance on other matters that arise in the college students’ lives during the first year.
Additionally, the UC offers several services for parents to support their first-year college students. Parent orientation is offered during the NSO, with programs geared specifically toward parents and their needs as a college parent. Parents of freshmen also receive a copy of the “Ram Fam,” the parent newsletter, which is mailed to the permanent address that the university has on file for the students. Parents of first-year students can also participate in the Freshman Parent Association and Freshman Parent Council, providing input on parent programming and events. And, parents are encouraged to attend the VCU Fall Fest with activities planned particularly for families.
Learning communities provide a way for first-year students to experience the benefits of a small college environment within a large university setting. Learning communities promote interaction with peers, faculty and UC staff, offer opportunities to become involved in the life of the university and help students achieve greater levels of academic success.
There are two types of learning communities available through the UC. The FIG (Freshman Interest Group) program guarantees students three to four common freshman courses during their first semester. Each FIG has no more than 25 students. Students in the FIG all take UNIV 101 Introduction to the University together as their anchor course. They also co-enroll in two or three additional classes. FIGs give students opportunities to form study groups and develop relationships with 24 other students who share common classes.
The residential villages are a second type of learning community offered. Residential villages allow students who share common academic or personal interests to live together on a particular floor in the freshman residence halls. Village participants also share at least one class during their first semester. The residential villages provide a built-in support system and promote a sense of community among participants.