Getting Started is an initiative which supports students new to higher education. Access to Blackboard (BB) is given prior to enrolment where there are materials about getting organised for coming to university and an introduction to academic practices. This year, Getting Started is bigger than ever. All undergraduates who have accepted an offer of a place have been invited and there are also Faculty Sites with welcome messages and subject specific information.
The rationale for Getting Started is indisputable. Research into the reasons first year students withdraw cites lack of preparation, in particular for the academic side of university life. Getting Started began prior to this. It was originally set up as a support mechanism for mature students who had been out of education for some time and had concerns about returning to learning. Getting Started offered communication channels alongside preparatory materials. Feedback showed this was much appreciated. Students reported they felt better able to cope with the new challenges which lay ahead.
We know transition support is valuable and it works. We know non-Getting Started students have said – with the benefit of hindsight – how useful it would have been for them. The HE experience, with its emphasis on critical thinking and reflective practice, is a pivotal point in anyone’s life. It offers the potential for change through new experiences but these can be daunting if you don’t know what to expect. Coming to university is a bit like running a marathon; the more you train the better you’ll perform on the day. Higher education is a challenge especially if you are unprepared for the reality of becoming an independent learner. Introducing the some of the principles of academic practices before arrival seems to be one of the best ways of offering new students the opportunity to hit the ground running and get off to the best possible start.
For more information about Getting Started, or to access the transition materials, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yorke, M. and Longden, B. (2008) The First Year Experience of Higher Education in the UK. HEA.