Rather than require a “First Year Experience” class for incoming freshmen, NMU could serve first-year students better with mandatory courses teaching basic life skills, such as cooking, tax preparation and financial literacy.
As negligible a skill as cooking may seem, it’s one that could save students money in the long run and teach them independence, as would a financial literacy course.
Teaching self-sufficiency would combat many of the problems students face in their first college years.
Freshman year can be daunting for students just leaving their parents’ houses. While the First Year Experience is a novel sentiment to direct students through this transition, life skills would benefit students more in the long term.
Many students enter adulthood without knowing how to balance checkbooks, file taxes or change a car tire. As those problems come front and center in their lives, easily avoidable frustration ensues. While this may be true with study skills and meeting acquaintances, high school exhaustively attempts at conditioning these behaviors.
Conversely, requiring classes in life skills would help students beyond the classroom and far beyond graduation. And Northern could implement these courses just as easily and effectively as they will with the First Year Experience.
Ironically, life skills courses would have much the same results as First Year Experience in socializing students with others (as the mandatory dorms already do).
Encouraging self-sufficiency would be an asset to new adults. For some, it may be tedious, but this is no different than the inevitable results of First Year Experience.
While retention rates are at play in the implementation of First Year Experience, the college will find that teaching life skills will be just as helpful in retaining students as teaching them smart study habits.
Teaching basic adult skills will result in crafting adult students.