Though the New Students Pulse report for fall 2012 shows that the majority of first-year students are satisfied with their experiences at Penn State, the university is looking into ways to better transition new students to University Park.
The university has already considered ways to move forward with new student orientation events at Penn State, including changing the First-Year Testing, Consulting, and Advising Program to the two-day New Student Orientation starting this summer, said Daniel Murphy, director for student orientation and transition programs.
A survey conducted by Penn State Student Affairs through the Pulse Program — which has been conducted since the spring of 1995 — shows that new students at Penn State are generally satisfied with their experience, Murphy said.
Specifically, the survey shows that 94.1 percent of first-year students said if they were starting college again, they would “probably” or “definitely” choose to attend Penn State, according to the survey. Andrea Dowhower, assistant vice president for student affairs, said the results from this year’s survey are consistent with previous years’ results.
“I think this high number indicates students’ overall satisfaction with their initial experiences at Penn State, both academic and extracurricular,” said Katherine Reed, interim coordinator of Student Affairs Research and Assessment.
But the survey also shows decreasing percentages in students who felt benefits from FTCAP and Welcome Week Events compared to 2010. With this decrease, Murphy said the university is looking into changing programs that transition new students to University Park.
“The idea behind the surveys is for the university to gather information about the student experience to help better inform practice and identify areas of growth with current programming,” Murphy said.
With this, the university is able to gather input about current programs that give information to students, Murphy said. These include Interpersonal Connection and Engagement, Academic Planning, Penn State Expectations of Responsibility, and FTCAP and Welcome Week Events. In each of these categories, he said, there was a slight decline in the positive responses provided by new students.
“The results indicate that we have an opportunity to continue developing programs to better serve and assist new students in their transition,” Murphy said.
Murphy said to do this, he hopes to create opportunities for new students to feel more connected to the university and to facilitate conversations that help more new students with academic goals. He also said he wants to help new students become familiar with the resources and support services Penn State offers, as well as have deeper conversations about the expectations of responsibility the university has for new students.
“The feedback we get from students has a direct impact on the information delivered during these transition programs,” Murphy said. “As we expand the program, we want to make sure that we can identify growth in the places where we have room for improvement, while not impacting the areas in which we already see strong results.”