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Easing the Transition from High School to College

Dean Morrison

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
DR. JENNIFER MORRISON, Associate Dean for the First Year

At Assumption College we recognize that the first year is a critical, transitional time. I work with first-year students to support their academic success through COMPASS, Assumption College’s First Year Experience, and by connecting them with faculty advisors and support staff.

COMPASS (Common Pursuit of Academic and Social Success)
All members of the Class of 2020 will begin their first year through Assumption College's First Year Experience, COMPASS, which is designed to offer new students the tools and instruction they need to find their way to academic and social success. There are two parts to COMPASS. The first is a learning community where students share two classes with the same small group of 22 fellow students in the fall. In mid-May, students will complete an online Advising Survey indicating their top five choices for a learning community. They’ll find out at orientation which learning community they will be joining. Learning communities help students to make the kinds of social connections that allow them to feel more comfortable in the classroom, resulting in a more engaging environment where they can ask questions and interact meaningfully with their peers and professors. Skills-building workshops are the second component to COMPASS. Offered during the common hour throughout the fall semester, the workshops provide students timely guidance on key topics like time management, balancing academics and social commitments, effective study skills and finding and citing good information. The workshops are co-facilitated by a staff member and upper-classmen so that students have direct access to support staff regularly throughout the semester.

June Orientation
A student’s introduction to the academic and co-curricular life at Assumption College begins during the June Orientation Program. Students are given the “COMPASS Reading” and participate in a class discussion to provide a sense of what they can expect from their classes in the fall. As students send in their enrollment deposits, letters will be mailed with instructions on how to register for Orientation.

Individual Faculty Advisors
Each student will complete an online Advising Survey in May, including COMPASS preferences and a personal essay, so that an appropriate faculty advisor may be assigned based on shared academic and co-curricular interests. At Assumption, advisors are typically full-time faculty members who guide students throughout their college journey. The advisor reviews the Core Curriculum requirements, as well as the major and minor courses of study to help determine the appropriate academic path for each student. All students will meet one-on-one with a faculty advisor during the June Orientation program for 40 minutes. This meeting gives the student and faculty member the opportunity to discuss interests and goals and choose appropriate classes for the first semester.

All students are invited to meet with their advisors as often as they choose. Advisors always schedule appointments with first-year students at mid-term to review their Mid-Semester Progress Reports, and again during the advising and registration period for spring semester. The Mid-Semester Progress Reports provide students with a sense of where they stand, and this information helps in the advising process for second semester. At Assumption, there is a deep commitment to personal interaction among faculty and students, which promotes academic success and excellence. Faculty hold six office hours per week so students can ask questions, discuss ideas or obtain additional assistance. Assumption is committed to working closely with your student in an environment where intellectual pursuits and engagement in academic inquiry are important predictors of college success.

The Summer Bridge
In July and August, students will get acquainted with their COMPASS learning community members through Blackboard, an online learning platform used in many classes. They’ll familiarize themselves with Blackboard while responding to questions about the COMPASS reading and getting to know their peers online.

August Orientation
First-year students move in to their residence halls on Friday, August 26, so they may have an opportunity to meet other first-year students before the upperclassmen move back on Sunday. Academic sessions that prepare students for their first semester of classes are another vital element of the Move-in Orientation. Small groups of faculty and students gather to continue the discussion of the COMPASS Reading. COMPASS 101 serves as an introduction to the workshops in the fall and gets students ready for the first week of classes.

I will be available at the April Accept Assumption event this spring to share more about how Assumption prepares students for a successful first year. I look forward to seeing you this spring.


Jennifer Morrison, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for the First Year