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Source: Sarah Buchanan, 785-532-6541, buchs@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Greg Tammen, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Friday, May 7, 2010

NEWLY PILOTED GPS PROGRAM NAVIGATES FRESHMEN TOWARD SUCCESS AT K-STATE

MANHATTAN -- A program to help first-year students at Kansas State University with the transition to college will be expanded in fall 2010.

K-State's Guide for Personal Success program, or GPS, is a collaborative effort between the university's student life and academic services. It will be offered in the fall to every first-year student at K-State.

The GPS program was piloted in the fall 2009 semester as a way to provide additional support to 135 first-year students, helping them transition to college and a new community by concentrating on social and personal aspects of the student experience. The program used K-State students enrolled in the first-year seminar courses, which offer smaller class sizes and enhanced support.

Students in K-State's GPS program are paired with a faculty or staff member, graduate student or alumni who act as their guide and mentor. Each student's guide serves as a resource to campus services and other campus entities as well as to provide support when needed.

"Our faculty and staff are connected on- and off-campus, which can provide that additional knowledge and expertise that some students may not have accumulated quite yet," said Sarah Buchanan, K-State Healthy Decisions coordinator.

"Research shows that the more connected students are to campus, whether through faculty, staff, student organization involvement, etc., the more likely they are to persist," she said.

In November 2009, students in the program were asked to complete a short survey. While Buchanan said there were a few mixed reviews of the GPS program, overall she said the survey was positive.

Of the 135 participating students, 72 -- or 53.3 percent -- responded. When asked if their guide helped with their transition to college, 78.5 percent answered said yes.

Other survey highlights included:

* The top five areas where students perceived they were either successful or very successful were academics/classes, knowledge of campus services and resources, making friends, time management and stress management.

* The top five areas students deemed unsuccessful were in getting enough exercise, getting involved, getting enough sleep, eating healthy and stress management.

When it came to student utilization of the program and their guide, Buchanan said she did not know quite what to expect during the first year.

"I knew that many of the students who chose to be in the program were probably those who were already connected and high-achieving and would make use of their guide," she said. "Other students didn't really understand the purpose of the program or didn't feel like they needed help in their transition and thus, they didn't connect or meet with their guide."

While the program's core mechanics will remain unchanged for the 2010-2011 school year, a few changes will be implemented to better the students enrolled in it. For fall 2010, the program will be open to all freshmen rather than only those enrolled in first-year seminars, and it will only last a semester rather than the entire academic year. Guides also will be matched according to at least one similarity -- major/college, hometown or places lived, interests/hobbies, etc. – rather than paired randomly.

During the course of the program, students are expected to meet with their guide a minimum of three times during the semester, with the ability to continue their relationship with their guide throughout their time at K-State.

K-State faculty and staff interested in becoming a guide can contact Buchanan at 785-532-6541 or buchs@k-state.edu.