Exceptional Beginnings is part of an ongoing and multi-faceted transition process involving academic, intellectual and personal development pursuits for new students. It is a University-wide first year experience program with the mission of helping each first year student transition from high school to college by providing a supportive community in which to learn and grow, encouraging academic excellence through co-curricular learning, fostering the development of the whole student and developing a connection with the Mount Union community.
Research has shown that student engagement on campus can be an important predictor of success. Since the inception of the First Year Experience program, now known as the Exceptional Beginnings program, seven years ago, Mount Union has found that retention and persistence rates for the students involved in the program have been higher than compared to their counterparts outside the program. For this reason, as well as the change in the Mount Union curriculum, the program was expanded to include the entire first year class.
As part of this program, new students will be split into groups during fall orientation. Those groups will be the same students in their First Year Seminar, and that group will work with an upper class student mentor called a Raider Guide. First year students relate particularly well to upper class students, and as a result are encouraged to excel academically, socially, and as campus leaders. The Raider Guides’ primary role is to facilitate the creation of a positive relationships with the members of their Exceptional Beginnings group.
Educational Objectives of Exceptional Beginnings
Along with peer mentoring, there are other education objectives for the Exceptional Beginnings program, which are listed below. To learn more about these objectives as well as the programs used to reach them, please see the detailed program overview.
- Making Responsible Decisions in College related to:
- alcohol and drugs
- nutrition and wellness
- financial responsibility
- Taking Responsibility for Your Education by:
- taking advantage of academic support opportunities
- taking advantage of outside the classroom learning opportunities
- Creating Balance and Maintaining Mental Wellness
- Getting Involved and Taking Advantage of Opportunities on campus
- Learning and Living in a Diverse World
Exceptional Beginnings programs are offered to all first year students, and the Raider Guide will encourage them to participate. However, first year students will also have the opportunity to opt-in to the Raider Challenge. Opting in will give students the opportunity to earn extra housing points as well as the chance to win upgraded semester-end prizes. To complete the Raider Challenge, a first year student must opt-in to the program online, and then attend seven Exceptional Beginnings programs. Though students can double-up in an education area, they must attend at least one program from each area to complete the Raider Challenge.
A complete list of Exceptional Beginnings events that are eligible for the Raider Challenge will be posted in late August 2016.